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The General libraries 

University of Texas 

at Austin 




F 215 W27 1899 LAC 

^ '•' ■^• 


- -'^ift* 

fRx. tMRtntfii QliEnttnff0« 

MY SUMMER IN A GARDEN. Riverside Aldine Series. 

i6mo, $i.oo. 
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Crown 8vo, $5.00. 
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IN THE WILDERNESS. " Little Classic ** style. i8mo, 

WASHINGTON IRVING. In "American Men of Letters" 

Series. With Portrait. i6mo, ^1.25. 
A ROUNDABOUT JOURNEY. Crown 8vo, $1.50. 

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Boston and New York. 








Oopyright, 1888, 

All rights reserved. 

The Rivergide Fireu, Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A, 
Rleotzo^Tped and Frinted by H. 0. Houghton & Company 





I. From El Paso to thb City of Mbxico . . 155 



v. TcziNTCzuirrczAN — Uruapah .... 273 




" The way to mount a horse " — said the 

" If you have no ladder " — put in the Friend 
of Humanity. 

The Professor had ridden through thfe war 
for the Union on the right side, enjoying a 
much better view of it than if he had walked, 
and knew as much about a horse as a person 
ought to know for the sake of his character. 
The man who can recite the tales of the Can- 
terbury Pilgrims, on horseback, giving the con- 
temporary pronunciation, never missing an ac- 
cent by reason of the trot, and at the same 
time witch North Carolina and a strip of East 
Tennessee with his noble horsemanship, is a 
kind of Literary Centaur of whose double in- 
struction any Friend of Humanity may be glad 
to avail himself. 

" The way to mount a horse is to grasp the 


mane with the left hand holding the bridle- 
rein, put your left foot in the stirrup, with the 
right hand on the back of the saddle, and " — 

Just then the horse stepped quickly around 
on his hind feet, and looked the Professor in 
the face. The Superintendents of Affairs, who 
occupy the flagging in front of the hotel, seated 
in cane-bottomed chairs tilted back, smiled. 
These useful persons appear to have a life-lease 
of this portion of the city pavement, and pretty 
effectually block it up nearly all day and even- 
ing. When a lady wishes to make her way 
through the blockade, it is the habit of these 
observers of life to rise and make room, touch- 
ing their hats, while she picks her way through, 
and goes down the street with a pretty con- 
sciousness of the flutter she has caused. The 
war has not changed the Southern habit of 
sitting out-of-doors, but has added a new ele- 
ment of street picturesqueness in groups of col- 
ored people lounging about the corners. There 
appears to be more leisure than ever. 

The scene of this little lesson in horseman- 
ship was the old town of Abingdon, in South- 
west Virginia, on the Virginia and East Ten- 
nessee railway ; a town of ancient respectability, 
which gave birth to the Johnstons and Floyds 
and other notable people, a town that still 
preserves the flavor of excellent tobacco and 


something of the easy-going habits of the days 
of slavery, and is a sort of educational centre, 
where the young ladies of the region add the 
final graces of intellectual life in moral pliiloso- 
phy and the use of the globes to their natural 
gifts. The mansion of the late and left Floyd 
is now a seminary, and not far from it is the 
Stonewall Jackson Institute, in the midst of a 
grove of splendid oaks, whose stately boles and 
wide-spreading branches give a dignity to edu- 
cational life. The distinction of the region is 
its superb oak-trees. As it was vacation in 
these institutions of learning, the travelers did 
not see any of the vines that traditionally cling 
to the oak. 

The Pix)fessor and the Friend of Humanity 
were about starting on a journey, across coun- 
try southward, through regions about which 
the people of Abingdon could give little useful 
information. If the travelera had known the 
capacities and resources of the country, they 
would not have started without a supply train, 
or the establishment of bases of provisions in 
advance. But, as the Professor remarked, 
knowledge is something that one acquires when 
he has no use for it. The horses were saddled ; 
the riders were equipped with flannel shirts 
and leather leggins; the saddle-bags were 
stuffed with clean linen, and novels, and son- 


nets of Shakespeare, and other baggage, — it 
would have been well if they had been stuffed 
with hard-tack, for in real life meat is more 
than raiment. 

The hotel, in front of which there is culti- 
yated so much of what the Germans call sitz- 
fleischy is a fair type of the majority of South- 
ern hotels, and differs from the same class in 
the North in being left a little more to run 
itself. The only information we obtained 
about it was from its porter at the station, who 
replied to the question, " Is it the best ? " 
" We warrant you perfect satisfaction in every 
respect." This seems to be only a formula of 
expression, for we found that the statement 
was highly colored. It was left to our imagina- 
tion to conjecture how the big chambers of the 
old house, with their gaping fireplaces, might 
have looked when furnished and filled with gay 
company, and we got what satisfaction we 
could out of a bygone bustle and mint-julep 
hilarity. In our struggles with the porter to 
obtain the little items of soap, water, and tow- 
els, we were convinced that we had arrived too 
late, and that for perfect satisfaction we should 
have been here before the war. It was not al- 
ways as now. In colonial days the accommoda- 
tions and prices at inns were regulated by law. 
In the old records in the court-house we read 


that if we had been here in 1777 we could have 
had a gallon of good rum for sixteen shillings ; 
a quart bowl of rum toddy made with loaf 
sugar for two shillings, or with brown sugar 
for one shilling and sixpence. In 1779 prices 
had risen. Good rum sold for four pounds a 
gallon. It was ordered that a warm dinner 
should cost twelve shillings, a cold dinner nine 
shillings, and a good breakfast twelve shillings* 
But the item that pleased us most, and made 
us regret our late advent, was that for two 
shillings we could have had a " good lodging, 
with clean sheets." The colonists were fastidi- 
ous people. 

Abingdon, prettily situated on rolling hills 
and a couple of thousand feet above the sea, 
with views of mountain peaks to the south, is a 
cheerful and not too exciting place for a brief 
sojourn, and hospitable and helpful to the 
stronger. We had dined — so much, at least, 
the public would expect of us — with a descen- 
dant of Pocahontas; we had assisted on Sun- 
day morning at the dedication of a new brick 
Methodist church, the finest edifice in the re- 
gion, a dedication that took a long time, since 
the bishop would not proceed with it until 
money enough was raised in open meeting to 
pay the balance due on it, — a religious act, 
though it did give a business aspect to the 


place at the time ; and we had been the light 
spots in the evening service at the most aristo- 
cratic church of color. The irresponsibility of 
this amiable race was exhibited in the tardi-- 
ness with which they assembled: at the ap- 
pointed time nobody was there except the sex- 
ton ; it was three quarters of an hour before 
^he congregation began to saunter in, and the 
sermon was nearly over before the pews were 
at all filled. Perhaps the sermon was not new, 
but it was fervid, and at times the able 
preacher roared so that articulate sounds were 
lost in the general effect. It was precisely 
these passages of cataracts of sound and hard 
breathing which excited the liveliest responses, 
— " Yes, Lord," and " Glory to God." Most 
of these responses came from the " Amen cor- 
ner." The sermon contained the usual vivid 
description of the last judgment-ah, and I fan- 
cied that the congregation did not get the 
ordinary satisfaction out of it. Fashion had 
entered the fold, and the singing was mostly 
executed by a choir in the dusky gallery, who 
thinly and harshly warbled the emotional 
hymns. It occupied the minister a long time 
to give out the notices of the week, and there 
was not an evening or afternoon that had not 
its meetings, its literary or social gathering, 
its picnic or fair for the benefit of the church. 


its Dorcas society, or some occasion of religious 
sociability. The raising of funds appeared to 
be the burden on the preacher's mind. Two 
collections were taken up. At the first, the 
boxes appeared to get no supply except from 
the two white trash present. But the second 
was more successful. After the sermon was 
over, an elder took bis place at a table within 
the rails, and the real business of the evening 
began. Somebody in the Amen comer struck 
up a tune that had no end, but a mighty power 
of setting the congregation in motion. The 
leader had a voice like the pleasant droning of 
a bag-pipe, and the faculty of emitting a con- 
tinuous note like that instrument, without stop- 
ping to breathe. It went on and on like a Bach 
fugue, winding and whining its way, turning 
the comers of the lines of the catch without 
a break. The eflEect was soon visible in the 
emotional crowd : feet began to move in a reg- 
ular cadence and voices to join in, with spurts 
of ejaculation ; and soon, with an air of mar- 
tyrdom, the members began to leave their seats 
and pass before the table and deposit their con- 
tributions. It was a cent contribution, and we 
found it very difficult, under the contagious 
influence of the hum from the Amen corner, 
not to rise and go forward' and deposit a cent. 
If anything could extract the pennies from a 


reluctant worldling it would be the buzzing of 
this tune. It went on and on, until the house 
appeared to be drained dry of its cash ; and we 
inferred by the stopping of the melody that the 
preacher's salary was secure for the time being. 
On inquiring, we ascertained that the pecuni- 
ary flood that evening had risen to the height 
of a dollar and sixty cents. 

All was ready for the start. It should have 
been early in the morning, but it was not ; for 
Virginia is not only one of the blessed regions 
where one can get a late breakfast, but where 
it is almost impossible to get an early one. At 
ten A. M., the two horsemen rode away out of 
sight of the Abingdon spectators, down the 
eastern turnpike. The day was warm, but 
the air was full of vitality and the spirit of ad- 
venture. It was the 22d of July. The horses 
were not ambitious, but went on at an easy 
fox-trot that permits observation and encour- 
ages conversation. It had been stipulated that 
the horses should be good walkers, the one 
essential thing in a horseback journey. Few 
horses, even in a country where riding is gen- 
eral, are trained to walk fast. We hear much 
of horses that can walk five miles an hour, but 
they are as rare as white elephants. Our 
horses were only fair walkers. We realized 
how necessary this accomplishment is, for be< 


tween the Tennessee line and Asheville, North 
Carolina, there is scarcely a mile of trotting- 

We soon turned southward and descended 
into the Holston River Valley. Beyond lay 
the Tennessee hills and conspicuous White- 
Top Mountain (5530 feet), which has a good 
deal of local celebrity (standing where the 
Stat€s of Virginia, Tennessee, and North Caro- 
lina corner), and had been pointed out to us 
at Abingdon. We had been urged, personally 
and by letter, to ascend this mountain, without 
fail. People recommend mountains to their 
friends as they do patent medicines. As we 
leisurely jogged along we discussed this, and 
endeavored to arrive at some rule of conduct 
for the journey. The Professor expressed at 
once a feeling about mountain-climbing that 
amounted to hostility, — he would go nowhere 
that he could not ride. Climbing was the 
most unsatisfactory use to which a mountain 
could be put. As to White-Top, it was a small 
mountain, and not worth ascending. The 
Friend of Humanity, who believes in moun- 
tain-climbing as a theory, and for other peo- 
ple, and knows the value of being able to say, 
without detection, that he has ascended any 
high mountain about which he is questioned, — 
since this question is the first one asked about 


an exploration in a new country, — saw that 
he should have to use a good deal of diplomacy 
to get the Professor over any considerable 
elevation on the trip. And he had to confess 
also that a view from a mountain is never so 
satisfactory as a view of a mountain, from a 
moderate height. The Professor, however, did 
not argue the matter on any such reasonable 
ground, but took his stand on his right as a 
man not to ascend a mountain. With this ap- 
peal to first principles, — a position that could 
not be confuted on account of its vagueness 
(although it might probably be demonstrated 
that in society man has no such right), — there 
was no way of agreement except by a compro- 
mise. It was accordingly agreed that no moun- 
tain under six thousand feet is worth ascend- 
ing; that disposed of White -Top. It was 
further agreed that any mountain that is over 
six thousand feet high is too high to ascend on 

With this amicable adjustment we forded 
the Holston, crossing it twice within a few 
miles. This upper branch of the Tennessee is 
a noble stream, broad, with a rocky bed and a 
swift current. Fording it is ticklish business 
except at comparatively low water, and as 
it is subject to sudden rises there must be 
times when it seriously interrupts travel. This 


whole region, full of swift streams, is without 
a bridge, and, as a consequence, getting over 
rivers and brooks and the dangers of ferries 
occupy a prominent place in the thoughts of 
the inhabitants. The life necessarily had the 
*' frontier" quality all through, for there can 
be little solid advance in civilization in the 
uncertainties of a bridgeless condition. An 
open, pleasant valley, the Holston, but cultiva- 
tion is more and more negligent and houses are 
few and poorer as we advance. 

We had left behind the hotels of "perfect 
satisfaction," and expected to live on the coun- 
try, trusting to the infrequent but remunerated 
hospitality of the widely scattered inhabitants. 
We were to dine at Ramsey's. Ramsey's had 
been recommended to us as a royal place of 
entertainment, the best in all that region ; and 
as the sun grew hot in the sandy valley, and 
the weariness of noon fell upon us, we magni- 
fied Ramsey's in our imagination, — the nobil- 
ity of its situation, its cuisine, its inviting rest- 
fulness, — and half decided to pass the night 
there in the true abandon of plantation life. 
Long before we reached it, the Holston River 
which we followed had become the Laurel, a 
most lovely, rocky, winding stream, which we 
forded continually, for the valley became too 
narrow much of the way to accommodate a 


road and a river. Eagerly as vie were looking 
out for it, we passed the great Ramsey's with- 
out knowing it, for it was the first of a little 
settlement of two houses and a saw-mill and 
barn. ,It was a neat log house of two lower 
rooms and a summer kitchen, quite the best of 
the class that we saw, and the pleasant mis- 
tress of it made us welcome. Across the road 
and close to the Laurel was the spring-house, 
the invariable adjunct to every well-to-do 
house in the region, and on the stony margin 
of the stream was set up the big caldron for 
the family washing ; and here, paddling in the 
shallow stream, while dinner was preparing, we 
established an intimacy with the children and 
exchanged philosophical observations on life 
with the old negress who was dabbling the 
clothes. What impressed this woman was the 
inequality in life. She jumped to the unwar- 
ranted conclusion that the Professor and the 
Friend were very rich, and spoke with asperity 
of the difficulty she experienced in getting 
shoes and tobacco. It was useless to point out 
to her that her alfresco life was singularly 
blessed and free from care, and the happy 
lot of any one who could loiter all day by 
this laughing stream, undisturbed by debt or 
ambition. Everybody about the place was 
barefooted, except the mistress, including the 


comely daughter of eighteen, who served our 
dinner in the kitchen. The dinner was abun- 
dant, and though it seemed to us incongruous 
at the time, we were not twelve hours older 
when we looked back upon it with longing. 
On the table were hot biscuit, ham, porl^, and 
green beans, apple-sauce, blackberry preserves, 
cucumbers, coffee, plenty of milk, honey, and 
apple and blackberry pie. Here we had our 
first experience, and I may say new sensation, 
of "honey on pie." It has a cloying sound as 
it is written, but the handmaiden recommended 
it with enthusiasm, and we evidently fell in 
her esteem, as persons from an uncultivated 
society, when we declared our inexperience of 
" honey on pie." " Where be you f )om ? " It 
turned out to be very good, and we have tried 
to introduce it in families since our return, 
with indifferent success. There did not seem 
to be in this family much curiosity about the 
world at large, nor much stir of social life. 
The gayety of madame appeared to consist in 
an occasional visit to paw and maw and grand- 
maw, up the river a few miles, where she was 

Refreshed by the honey and fodder at Ram- 
sey's, the pilgrims went gayly along the musi- 
cal Laurel, in the slanting rays of the after- 
noon sun, which played upon the rapids and 


illumined all the woody way. Inspired by the 
misapprehension of the colored philosopher and 
the dainties of the dinner, the Professor solilo- 
quized : — 

" So am I as the rich, whose blessed key 
Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure, 
The which he will not every hour survey, 
For blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure^ 
Therefore are feasts so solemn and so rare, 
Since seldom coming, in the long year set. 
Like stones of wealth they thinly placed are. 
Or captain jewels in the carcanet/' 

Five miles beyond Ramsey's the Tennessee line 
was crossed. The Laurel became more rocky, 
swift, full of rapids, and the valley narrowed 
down to the river-way, with standing room, 
however, for stately trees along the banks. 
The oaks, both black and white, were, as they 
had been all day, gigantic in size and splendid 
in foliage. There is a certain dignity in rid- 
ing in such stately company, and the travelers 
clattered along over the stony road under the 
impression of possible high adventure in a new 
world of such freshness. Nor was beauty want- 
ing. The rhododendrons had, perhaps, a week 
ago reached their climax, and now began to 
strew the water and the ground with their 
brilliant petals, dashing all the way with color ; 
but they were still matchlessly beautiful. 
Great banks of pink and white covered the 


steep hillsides ; the bending stems, ten to twen- 
ty feet high, hung their rich clusters over the 
river; avenues of glory opened away in the 
glade of the stream ; and at every turn of the 
winding way vistas glowing with the hues of 
romance, wrenched exclamations of delight and 
wonder from the Shakespearean sonneteer and 
his humble Friend. In the deep recesses of 
the forest suddenly flalned to the view, like the 
splashes of splendor on the sombre canvas of 
an old Venetian, these wonders of color, — the 
glowing summer-heart of the woods. 

It was difficult to say, meantime, whether 
the road was laid out in the river, or the river 
in the road. In the few miles to Egger's (this 
was the destination of our great expectations 
for the night) the stream was crossed twenty- 
seven times, — or perhaps it would be more 
proper to say that the road was crossed twenty- 
seven times. Where the road did not run in 
the river, its bed was washed out and as stony 
as the bed of the stream. This is a general 
and accurate description of all the roads in this 
region, which wind along and in the streams, 
through narrow valleys, shut in by low and 
steep bills. The country is full of springs and 
streams, and between Abingdon and Egger's 
is only one (small) bridge. In a region with 
scarcely any level land or intervale, farmers 


are at a disadvantage. All along the road we 
saw nothing but mean shanties, generally of 
logs, with now and then a decent one-story 
frame, and the people looked miserably poor. 

As we picked our way along up the Laurel, 
obliged for the most part to ride single-file, or 
as the Professor expressed it, — 

" Let me confess that we two must be twain. 
Although our undivided loves are one/' — 

we gathered information about Egger's from 
the infrequent hovels on the road, which in- 
flamed our imaginations. Egger was the thriv- 
ing man of the region, and lived in style in a 
big brick house. We began to feel a doubt 
that Egger would take us in, and so much did 
his brick magnificence impress us that we re- 
gretted we had not brought apparel fit for the 
society we were about to enter. 

It was half past six, and we were tired and 
hungry, when the domain of Egger towered in 
sight, — a gaunt two-story structure of raw 
brick, unfinished, standing in a narrow inter- 
vale. We rode up to the gate, and asked a 
man who sat in the front-door porch if this was 
Egger's, and if we could be accommodated for 
the night. The man, without moving, allowed 
that it was Egger's, and that we could prob- 
ably stay there. This person, however, exhib- 


ited so much indifference to our company, he 
was such a hairy, unkempt man, and carried on 
face, hands, and clothes so much more of the 
soil of the region than a prudent proprietor 
would divert from raising corn, that we set 
him aside as a poor relation, and asked for Mr. 
Egger. But the man, still without the least 
hospitable stir, admitted that that was the 
name he went by, and at length advised us to 
" lite " and hitch our horses, and sit on the 
porch with him and enjoy the cool of the even- 
ing. The horses would be put up by and by, 
and in fact things generally would come round 
some time. This turned out to be the easy 
way of the country. Mr. Egger was far from 
being inhospitable, but was in no hurry, and 
never had been in a hurry. He was not ex- 
actly a gentleman of the old school. He was 
better than that. He dated from the time 
when there were no schools at all, and he lived 
in that placid world which is without informa- 
tion and ideas. Mr. Egger showed his superi- 
ority by a total lack of curiosity about any 
other world. 

This brick house, magnificent by comparison 
with other dwellings in this country, seemed 
to us, on nearer acquaintance, only a thin, 
crude shell of a house, half unfinished, with 
bare rooms, the plastering already discolored. 


In point of furnishing it had not yet reached 
the " God bless our Home " stage in crewel. 
In the narrow meadow, a strip of vivid green 
south of the house, ran a little stream, fed by 
a copious spring, and over it was built the in- 
evitable spring-house. A post, driven into the 
bank by the stream, supported a tin wash- 
basin, and here we performed our ablutions. 
The traveler gets to like this freedom and 
primitive luxury. 

The farm of Egger produces com, wheat, 
grass, and sheep ; it is a good enough farm, but 
most of it lies at an angle of thirty-five to forty 
degrees. The ridge back of the house, planted 
in com, was as steep as the roof of his dwell- 
ing. It seemed incredible that it ever could 
have been ploughed, but the proprietor assured 
us that it was ploughed with mules, and I 
judged that the harvesting must be done by 
squirrels. The soil is good enough, if it would 
stay in place, but all the hillsides are seamed 
with gullies. The discolored state of the 
streams was accounted for as soon as we saw 
this cultivated land. No sooner is the land 
cleared of trees and broken up than it begins 
to wash. We saw more of this later, espe- 
cially in North Carolina, where we encountered 
no stream of water that was not muddy, and 
saw no cultivated ground that was not washed. 


The process of denudation is going on rapidly 
wherever the original forests are girdled (a 
common way of preparing for crops), or cut 

As the time passed and there was no sign of 
supper, the question became a burning one, 
and we went to explore the kitchen. No sign 
of it there. No fire in the stove, nothing 
cooked in the house, of course. Mrs, Egger 
and her comely young barefooted daughter 
had still the milking to attend to, and supper 
must wait for the other chores. It seemed 
easier to be Mr. Egger, in this state of exist- 
ence, and sit on the front porch and meditate 
on the price of mules and the prospect of a 
crop, than to be Mrs. Egger, whose work was 
not limited from sun to sun ; who had, in* fact, 
a day's work to do after the men-folks had 
knocked off; whose chances of neighborhood 
gossip were scanty, whose amusements were 
confined to a religious meeting once a fort- 
night. Good, honest people these, not unduly 
puffed up by the brick house, grubbing away 
year in and year out. Yes, the young girl 
said, there was a neighborhood party, now and 
then, in the winter. What a price to pay for 
mere life I 

Long before supper was ready, nearly nine 
o'clock, we had almost lost interest in it. 


Meantime two other guests had arrived, a 
couple of drovers from North Carolina, who 
brought into the circle — by this time a wood- 
fire had been kindled in the sitting-room, 
which contained a bed, an almanac, and some 
old copies of a newspaper- — a rich flavor of 
cattle, and talk of the price of steers. As to 
politics, although a presidential campaign was 
raging, there was scarcely an echo of it here. 
This was Johnson County, Tennessee, a strong 
Republican county ; but dog-gone it, saya Mr. 
Egger, it 's no use to vote ; our votes are over- 
borne by the rest of the State. Yes, they 'd 
got a Republican member of Congress, — 
he 'd heard his name, but he 'd forgotten it. 
The drover said he'd heard it also, but he 
did»'t take much interest in such things, 
though he was n't any Republican. Parties is 
pretty much all for office, both agreed. Even 
the Professor, who was traveling in the interest 
of Reform, couldn't wake up a discussion out 
of such a state of mind. 

Alas ! the supper, served in a room dimly 
lighted with a smoky lamp, on a long table 
covered with oil-cloth, was not of the sort to 
arouse the delayed and now gone appetite of 
a Reformer, and yet it did not lack variety: 
corn-pone (Indian meal stirred up with water 
and heated through), hot biscuit slack-baked 


and livid, fried salt-pork swimming in grease, 
apple-butter, pickled beets, onions and cucum- 
bers raw, coffee, so-called, buttermilk, and 
sweet milk when specially asked for (the cor- 
rect taste, however, is for buttermilk), and pie. 
This was not the pie of commerce, but the pie 
of the country, — two thick slabs of dough, 
with a squeezing of apple between. The pro- 
fusion of this supper staggered the novices, 
but the drovers attacked it as if such cooking 
were a common occurrence, and did justice to 
the weary labors of Mrs. Egger. 

Egger is well prepared to entertain stran- 
gers, having several rooms and several beds in 
each room. Upon consultation with the dro- 
vers, they said they 'd just as soon occupy an 
apartment by themselves, and we gave' up 
their society for the night. The beds in our 
chamber had each one sheet, and the room 
otherwise gave evidence of the modern spirit ; 
for in one corner stood the fashionable aesthetic 
decoration of our Queen Anne drawing-rooms, 
— the spinning-wheel. Soothed by this con- 
cession to taste, we crowded in between the 
straw and the home-made blanket and sheet, 
an(J soon ceased to hear the barking of dogs 
and the homed encounters of the drover's herd. 

We parted with Mr. Egger after breakfast 
(which was a close copy of the supper) with 


more respect than regret. His total charge for 
the entertainment of two men and two horses 
— supper, lodging, and breakfast — was high 
or low, as the traveler chose to estimate it. It 
was $1.20 : that is, thirty cents for each indi- 
vidual, or ten cents for each meal and lodging. 

Our road was a soi*t of by-way up Gentry 
Creek and over the Cut Laurel Gap to Worth's, 
at Creston Post-OflBce, in North Carolina, — 
the next available halting place, said to be 
fifteen miles distant, and turning out to be 
twenty-two, and a rough road. There is a 
little settlement about Egger's, and the first 
half mile of our way we had the company of 
the school-mistress, a modest, pleasant-spoken 
girl. Neither she nor any other people we 
encountered had any dialect or local ^ peculiar- 
ity of speech. Indeed, those we encountered 
that morning had nothing in manner or accent 
to distinguish them. The novelists had led us 
to expect something diEferent ; and the modest 
and pretty young lady with frank and open 
blue eyes, who wore gloves and used the com- 
mon English speech, had never figured in the 
fiction of the region. Cherished illusions van- 
ish often on near approach. The day gave no 
peculiarity of speech to note, except the occa- 
sional use of '' hit " for " it." 

The road over Cut Laurel Gap was very 


steep and stony, the thermometer mounted up 
to 80°, and notwithstanding the beauty of the 
way the ride became tedious before we reached 
the summit. On the summit is the dwelling 
and distillery of a colonel famous in these 
parts. We stopped at the house for a glass 
of milk ; the colonel was absent, and while the 
woman in charge went after it, we sat on the 
veranda and conversed with a young lady, tall, 
gentX'O^ell favored, and communicative, who 
leaned in the doorway. 

^^Yes, this house stands on the line. Where 
you sit you are in Tennessee ; I 'm in North 

" Do you live here ?" 

" Law, no ; I 'm just staying a little while 
at the colonel's. I live oyer the mountain 
here, three miles from Taylorsville. I thought 
I 'd be where I could step into North Carolina 

"How's that?" 

"Well, they wanted me to go before the 
gi*and jury and testify about some pistol-shoot- 
ing down by our house, — some friends of mine 
got into a little diflBculty, — and I did n't want 
to. I never has no difficulty with nobody, 
never says nothing about nobody, has nothing 
against nobody, and I reckon nobody has noth- 
ing against me." 


" Did yon come alone ? ** 

" Why, of course. I come across the monn- 
tain by a path through the woods. That's 

A discreet, pleasant, pretty girl. This surely 
must be the Esmeralda who lives in these 
mountains, and adorns low life by her virgin 
purity and sentiment. As she talked on, she 
turned from time to time to the fireplace be- 
hind her, and discharged a dark fluid from her 
pretty lips, with accuracy of aim, and with a 
nonchalance that was not assumed, but belongs 
to our free-bom American girls. I cannot tell 
why this habit of hers (which is no worse than 
the sister habit of " dipping ") should take her 
out of the romantic setting that her face and 
figure had placed her in ; but somehow we felt 
inclined to ride on further for our heroine. 

"And yet," said the Professor, as we left 
the site of the colonel's thriving distillery, and 
by a winding, picturesque road through a rough 
farming country descended into the valley, — 
" and yet why fling aside so readily a character 
and situation so full of romance, on account of 
a habit of this mountain Helen, which one of 
our best poets has almost made poetical, in the 
case of the pioneer taking his westward way, 
with oxgoad pointing to the sky : — 

" * He 's leaving on the pictured rock 
His fresh tobacco stain.' 


** To my mind the incident has Homeric ele- 
ments. The Greeks would hsLve looked at it 
in a large, legendary way. Here is Helen, 
strong and lithe of limb, ox-eyed, courageous, 
but woman-hearted and love-inspiring, con- 
tended for by all the braves and daring moon- 
shiners of Cut Laurel Gap, pursued by the gal- 
lants of two States, the prize of a border war- 
fare of bowie knives and revolvers. This 
Helen, magnanimous as attractive, is the wit- 
ness of a pistol difficulty on her behalf, and 
when wanted by the areopagus, that she may 
neither implicate a lover nor punish an enemy 
(having nothing, this noble type of her eex, 
against nobody) skips away to Mount Ida, and 
there, under the aegis of the flag of her coun- 
try, in a Licensed Distillery, stands with one 
slender foot in Tennessee and the other in 
North Carolina " — 

" Like the figure of the Republic itself, 
superior to state sovereignty," interposed the 

"I beg your pardon," said the Professor, 
urging up Laura Matilda (for so he called the 
nervous mare, who fretted herself into a fever 
in the stony path), " I was quite able to get 
the woman out of that position without the aid 
of a metaphor. It is a large and Greek idea, 
that of standing in two mighty States, supe- 


rior to the law, looking east and looking west, 
ready to transfer her agile body to either State 
on the approach of messengers of the court ; 
and I '11 be hanged if I did n't think that her 
nonchalant rumination of the weed, combined 
with her lofty moral attitude, added something 
to the picture." 

The Friend said that he was quite willing 
to join in the extremest defense of the privi- 
leges of beauty, — that he even held in abey- 
ance judgment on the practice of dipping ; but 
when it came to chewing, gum was as far as he 
could go as an allowance for the fair sex. 

•* When I consider everything that grows 
Holds in perfection but a little moment " — 

The rest of the stanza was lost, for the Profes- 
sor was splashing through the stream. No 
sooner had we descended than the fording of 
streams began again. The Friend had been 
obliged to stipulate that the Professor should 
go ahead at these crossings, to keep the impet- 
uous nag of the latter from throwing half the 
contents of the stream upon his slower and un- 
complaining companion. 

What a lovely country, but for the heat of 
noon and the long wearisomeness of the way I 
— not that the distance was great, but miles 
and miles more than expected. How charming 
the open glades of the river, how refreshing 


the great forests of oak and chestnut, and ^^hat 
a panorama of beauty the banks of rhododen- 
drons, now intermingled with the lighter pink 
and white of the laurel! In this region the 
rhododendron is called laurel, and the laurel 
(the sheep-laurel of New England) is called 

At Worth's, well on in the afternoon, we 
emerged into a wide, open farming intervale, 
a pleasant place of meadows and streams and 
decent dwellings. Worth's is the* trading cen- 
tre of the region, has a post-office and a saw- 
mill and a big country store ; and the dwelling 
of the proprietor is not unlike a roomy New 
England country-house. Worth's has been im- 
memorially a stopping place in a region where 
places of accommodation are few. The pro- 
prietor, now an elderly man, whose reminis- 
cences are long ante bellum^ has seen the world 
grow up about him, he the honored, just centre 
of it, and a family come up into the modem 
notions of life, with a boarding-school educa- 
tion and glimpses of city life and foreign 
travel. I fancy that nothing but tradition and 
a remaining Southern hospitality could induce 
this private family to suffer the incursions of 
this wayfaring man. Our travelers are not 
apt to be surprised at anything in American 
life, but they did not expect to find a house 


in this region with two pianos and a bevy of 
young ladies, whose clothes were certainly 
not made on Cut Laurel Gap, and to read in 
the books scattered about the house the evi- 
dences of the finishing schools with which our 
country is blessed, nor to find here pupils of 
the Stonewall Jackson Institute at Abingdon. 
With a fiush of local pride, the Professor took 
up, in the roomy, pleasant chamber set apart 
for the guests, a copy of Porter's Elements of 
Moral Science. 

«' Where you see the Elements of Moral 
Science," the Friend generalized, " there '11 be 
plenty of water and towels ; " and the sign 
did not fail. The friends intended to read 
this book in the cool of the day ; but as they 
sat on the long veranda, the voice of a maiden 
reading the latest novel to a sewing group be- 
hind the blinds in the drawing-room ; and the 
antics of a mule and a boy in front of the 
store opposite ; and the arrival of a spruce 
young man, who had just ridden over from 
somewhere, a matter of ten miles, gallop, to 
get a medicinal potion for his sick mother, 
and lingered chatting with the young ladies 
until we began to fear that his mother would 
recover before his return; the coming and 
going of lean women in shackly wagons to 
trade at the store; the coming home of the 


oows, splashing through the stream, hooking 
right and left, and lowing for the hand of the 
milker, — all these interruptions, together with 
the generally drowsy quiet of the approach 
of evening, interfered with the study of the 
Elements. And when the travelers, after a 
refreshing rest, went on their way next morn- 
ing, considering the Elements and the pianos 
and the refinement, to say nothing of the cui- 
sine, which is not treated of in the text-book 
referred to, they were content with a bill 
double that of brother Egger, in his brick 

The simple truth is that the traveler in this 
region must be content to feed on natural beau- 
ties. And it is an unfortunate truth in natural 
history that the appetite for this sort of diet 
fails after a time, if the inner man is not sup- 
plied with other sort of food. There is no 
landscape in the world that is agreeable after 
two days of rusty bacon and slack biscuit. 

" How lovely this would be," exclaimed the 
Professor, "if it had a background of beef- 
steak and coffee I " 

We were riding along the west fork of 
the Laurel, distinguished locally as Three Top 
Creek, — or rather we were riding in it, cross- 
ing it thirty-one times within six miles; a 
charming wood (and water) road, under the 


shade of fine trees, with the rhododendron illu- 
minating the way, gleaming in the forest and 
reflected in the stream, all the ten miles to Elk 
Cross Roads, our next destination. We had 
heard a great deal about Elk Cross Roads ; it 
was on the map, it was down in the itinerary 
furnished by a member of the Coast Survey. 
We looked forward to it a^ a sweet place of 
repose from the noontide heat. Alas I Elk 
Cross Roads is a dirty grocery-store, encum- 
bered with dry-goods boxes, fly-blown goods, 
flies, loafers. In reply to our inquiry, we 
were told" that they had nothing to eat, for 
us, and not a grain of feed for the horses. 
But there was a man a mile further on, who 
was well to do and had stores of food, — 
old man Tatem would treat us in bang-up 
style. The diflSculty of getting feed for the 
horses was chronic all through the journey. 
The last corn crop had failed, the new oats 
and corn had not come in, and the country 
was literally barren. We had noticed all along 
that the hens were taking a vacation, and that 
chickens were not put forward as an article 
of diet. 

We were unable, when we reached the resi- 
dence of old man Tatem, to imagine how the 
local superstition of his wealth arose. His 
house is of logs, with two rooms, a kitchen 


and a spare room, with a low loft accessible by 
a ladder at the side of the chimney. The 
chimney is a huge constraction of stone, sep- 
arating the two parts of the house ; in fact, the 
chimney was built first, apparently, and the 
two rooms were then built against it. The 
proprietor sat in a little railed veranda. 
These Southern verandas give an air to the 
meanest dwelling, and they are much used; 
the family sit here, and here are the wash- 
basin and pail (which is filled from the neigh- 
boring spring-house) and the row of milk-pans. 
The old man Tatem did not welcome us with 
enthusiasm; he had no com, — these were 
hard times. He looked like hard times, griz- 
zled times, dirty times. It seemed time out of 
mind since he had seen comb or razor, and 
although the lovely New River, along which 
we had ridden to his house, — a broad, inviting 
stream, — was in sight across the meadow, 
there was no evidence that he had ever made 
acquaintance with its cleansing waters. As to 
corn, the necessities of the case and pay being 
dwelt on, perhaps ,he could find a dozen ears. 
A dozen small ears he did find, and we trust 
that the horses found them. 

We took a family dinner with old man 
Tatem in the kitchen, where there was a bed 
and a stove, — a meal that the host seemed to 


enjoy, but which we could not make much of, 
except the milk; that was good. A painful 
meal, on the whole, owing to the presence in 
the room of a grown-up daughter with a grave- 
yard cough, without physician or medicine, or 
comforts. Poor girl! just dying of "a mis- 

In the spare room were two beds ; the walls 
were decorated with the gay-colored pictures 
of patent-medicine advertisements — a favorite 
art adornment of the region; and a pile of 
ancient illustrated papers with the usual pat- 
ent-office report, the thoughtful gift of the 
member for the district. The old man takes 
in the Blue Ridge Baptist, a journal which we 
found largely taken up with the experiences 
of its editor on his journeys roundabout in 
search of subscribers. This newspaper was the 
sole communication of the family with the 
world at large, but the old man thought he 
should stop it, — he didn't seem to get the 
worth of his money out of it. And old man 
Tatem was a thrifty and provident man. On 
the hearth in this best room — as ornaments 
or memento mori — were a couple of marble 
grave-stones, a short head-stone and foot-stone, 
mounted on bases and ready for use, except the 
lettering. These may not have been so mourn- 
ful and significant as they looked, nor the evi- 


dence of simple, htimble faith ; they may have 
been taken for debt. But as parlor ornaments 
they had a fascination which we could not es- 

It was while we were bathing in the New 
River, that afternoon, and meditating on the 
grim, unrelieved sort ot life of our host, that 
the Professor said, ^* Judging by the face of 
the Blue Ridge Baptist, he will charge us 
smartly for the few nubbins of corn and the 
milk." The face did not deceive us; the charge 
was one dollar. At this rate it would have 
broken us to have tarried with old man Tatem 
([perhaps he is not old, but that is the name he 
goes by) over night. 

It was a hot afternoon, and it needed some 
courage to mount and climb the sandy hill 
leading us away from the corn-crib of Tatem. 
But we entered almost immediately into fine 
stretches of forest, and rode under the shade 
of great oaks. The way, which began by the 
New River, soon led us over the hills to the 
higher levels of Watauga County. So far on 
our journey we had been hemmed in by low 
hills, and without any distant or mountain 
outlooks. The excessive heat seemed out of 
place at the elevation of over two thousand 
feet, on which we were traveling. Boone, the 
county-seat, of Watauga County, was our des- 


tination, and, ever since morning, the guide- 
boards and the trend of the roads had notified 
us that everything in this region tends tow- 
ards Boone as a centre of interest. The sim- 
ple ingenuity of some of the guide-boards im- 
pressed us. If, on coming to a fork, the trav- 
eler was to turn to the right, the sign read, 

To Boone 10 M. 
If he was to go to the left, it read, 

.M 01 HNOoa oT 
A short ride of nine miles, on an ascending 
road, through an open, unfenced forest region, 
brought us long before sundown to this capital. 
When we had ridden into its single street, 
which wanders over gentle hills, and landed at 
the most promising of the taverns, the Friend 
informed his comrade that Boone was 3250 feet 
above Albemarle Sound, and believed by its 
inhabitants to be the highest village east of the 
Rocky Mountains, The Professor said that it 
might be so, but it was a God-forsaken place. 
Its inhabitants numbered perhaps 250, a few of 
them colored. It had a gaunt, shaky court- 
house and jail, a store or two, and two taverns. 
The two taverns are needed to accommodate 
the judges and lawyers and their clients during 
the session of the court. The court is the only 
excitement and the only amusement. It is the 
event from which other events date. Every- 


body in the county knows exactly when court 
sits, and when court breaks. During the ses- 
sion the whole county is practically in Boone, 
men, women, and children. They camp there, 
they attend the trials, they take sides ; half of 
them, perhaps, are witnesses, for the region is 
litigious, and the neighborhood quarrels are 
entered into with spirit. To be fond of law- 
suits seems a characteristic of an isolated peo- 
ple in new conditions. The early settlers of 
New England were. 

Notwithstanding the elevation of Boone, 
which insured a pure air, the thermometer that 
afternoon stood at from 85*^ to 89°. The flies 
enjoyed it. How they swarmed in this tavern ! 
They would have carried off all the food from 
thd dining-room table (for flies do not mind 
eating off oil-cloth, and are not particular how 
food is cooked), but for the machine with hang- 
ing flappers that swept the length of it ; and 
they destroy all possibility of sleep except in 
the dark. The mountain regions of North 
Carolina are free from mosquitoes, but the fly 
has settled there, and is the universal scourge. 
This tavern, one end of which was a store, had 
a veranda in front, and a back gallery, where 
there were evidences of female refinement in 
pots of plants and flowers. The landlord him- 
self kept tavern very much as a hostler would, 


but we had to make a note in his favor that he 
had never heard of a milk pnnch. And it 
might as well be said here, for it will have to 
be insisted on later, that the traveler, who has 
read about the illicit stills till his imagination 
dwells upon the indulgence of his vitiated 
tastes in the mountains of North Carolina, is 
doomed to disappointment. If he wants to 
make himself an exception to the sober people 
whose cooking will make him long for the 
maddening bowl, he must bring his poison with 
him. We had found no bread since we left 
Virginia; we had seen corn-meal and water, 
slack-baked ; we had seen potatoes fried in 
grease, and bacon encrusted with salt (all thirst- 
provokers), but nothing to drink stronger than 
buttermilk. And we can say that, so far as 
our example is concerned, we left the country 
as temperate as we found it. How can there 
be mint- juleps (to go into details) without ice ? 
and in 4^he summer there is probably not a 
pound of ice in all the State north of Bun- 
combe County. 

There is nothing special to be said about 
Boone. We were anxious to reach it, we were 
glad to leave it ; we note as to all these places 
that our joy at departing always exceeds that 
on arriving, which is a merciful provision of 
nature for people who must keep moving. This 


country is settled by genuine Americans, who 
have the aboriginal primitive traits of the uni- 
versal Yankee nation. The front porch in the 
morning resembled a carpenter's shop ; it was 
literally covered with the whittlings of the row 
of natives who had spent the evening there in 
'Ju^ sedative occupation of whittling. 

We took that morning a forest road to Valle 
Crusis, seven miles, through noble growths of 
oaks, chestnuts, hemlocks, rhododendrons; a 
charming wood road, leading to a place that, 
as usual, did not keep the promise of its name. 
Valle Crusis has a blacksmith shop and a dirty, 
fly-blown store. While the Professor consulted 
the blacksmith about a loose shoe, the Friend 
carried his weariness of life without provisions 
up to a white house on the hill, and negotiated 
for boiled milk. This house was occupied by 
flies. They must have numbered millions, set- 
tled in black swarms, covering tables, beds, 
walls, the veranda ; the kitchen was simply a 
hive of them. The only book in sight, Whe- 
well's Elements of Morality, seemed to attract 
flies. Query, Why should this have such a 
different effect from Porter's ? A white house, 
a pleasant-looking house at a distance, amiable, 
kindly people in it, — why should we have 
arrived there on its dirty day ? Alas ! if we 
had been starving, Valle Crusis had nothing to 
offer us. 


So we rode away, in the blazing heat, i^ 
poetry exuding from the Professor, eight milea 
to Banner's Elk, crossing a mountain and pass- 
ing under Hanging Rock, a conspicuous feature 
in the landscape, and the only outcropping of 
rock we had seen : the face of a ledge, rounded 
up into the sky, with a green hood on it. From 
the summit we had the first extensive prospect 
during our journey. The road can be described 
as awful, — steep, stony, the horses unable to 
make two miles an hour on it. Now and then 
we encountered a rude log cabin without barns 
or outhouses, and a little patch of feeble corn. 
The women who regarded the passers from 
their cabin doors were frowzy and looked tired. 
What with the heat and the road and this dis- 
couraged appearance of humanity, we reached 
the residence of Dugger, at Banner's Elk, to 
which we had been directed, nearly exhausted. 
It is no use to represent this as a dash across 
country on impatient steeds. It was not so. 
The love of truth is stronger than the desire of 
display. And for this reason it is impossible to 
say that Mr. Dugger, who is an excellent man, 
lives in a clean and attractive house, or that he 
offers much that the pampered child of civili- 
zation can eat. But we shall not forget the 
two eggs, fresh from the hens, whose tempera- 
ture must have been above the normal, nor the 


spring-house in the glen, where we found a 
refuge from the flies and the heat. The higher 
we go, the hotter it is. Banner's Elk boasts 
an elevation of 3500 to 8700 feet. 

We were not sorry, towards sunset, to de- 
scend along the Elk River towards Cranberry 
Forge. The Elk is a lovely stream, and, though 
not very clear, has a reputation for trout ; but 
all this r^on was under operation of a three- 
years game law, to give the trout a chance to 
multiply, and we had no opportunity to test 
the value of its reputation. Yet a boy whom 
we encountered had a good string of quarter- 
pound trout, which he had taken out with a 
hook and a feather rudely tied on it, to resem- 
ble a fly. The road, though not to be com- 
mended, was much better than that of the 
morning, the forests grew charming in the cool 
of the evening, the whippoorwill sang, and as 
night fell the wanderers, in want of nearly 
everything that makes life desirable, stopped 
at the Iron Company's hotel, under the impres- 
sion that it was the only comfortable hotel in 
North Carolina. 


Ceanbbery Forge is the first wedge of. 
civilization fairly driven into the northwest 
mountains of North Carolina. A narrow-gauge 
railway, starting from Johnson City, follows 
up the narrow gorge of the Doe Riyer, and 
pushes into the heart of the iron mines at 
Cranberry, where there is a blast furnace ; and 
where a big company store, rows of tenement 
houses, heaps of slag and refuse ore, interlac- 
ing tracks, raw embankments, denuded hill- 
sides, and a blackened landscape are the signs 
of a great devastating American enterprise. 
The Cranberry iron is in great esteem, as it 
has the peculiar quality of the Swedish iron. 
There are remains of old furnaces lower down 
the stream, which we passed on our way. The 
present " plant " is that of a Philadelphia com- 
pany, whose enterprise has infused new life 
into all this region, made it accessible, and 
spoiled some pretty scenery. 

When we alighted, weary, at the gate of 
the pretty hotel, which crowns a gentle hill 
and commands a pleasing, evergreen prospect 


of many gentle hills, a mile or so below the 
works and wholly removed from all sordid as- 
sociations, we were at the point of willingness 
that the whole country should be devastated 
by civilization. In the local imagination this 
hotel of the company is a palace of unequaled 
magnificence, but probably its good-taste, com- 
fort, and quiet elegance are not appreciated 
after all. There is this to be said about Phil- 
adelphia — and it will go far in pleading for 
it in the Last Day against its monotonous rec- 
tangularity and the Babel-like ambition of its 
Public Building — that wherever its influence 
extends there will be found comfortable lodg- 
ings and the luxury of an undeniably excellent 
cuisine. The visible seal that Philadelphia 
sets on its enterprise all through the South is 
a good hotel. 

This Cottage Beautiful has on two sides a 
wide veranda, set about with easy chairs; 
cheerful parlors and pretty chambers, finished 
in native woods, among which are conspicuous 
the satin stripes of the cucumber tree ; luxuri- 
ous beds, and an inviting table, ordered by a 
Philadelphia landlady, who knows a beefsteak 
from a boot-tap. Is it "low" to dwell upon 
these things of the senses, when one is on a 
tour in search of the picturesque ? Let the 
reader ride from Abingdon through a wilder- 


ness of corn-pone and rasty bacon, and then 
judge. There were, to be sure, novels lying 
about, and newspapers, and fragments of in- 
formation to be picked up about a world into 
which the travelers seemed to emerge. They, 
at least, were satisfied, and went off to their 
rooms with the restful feeling that they had 
arrived somewhere, and no unquiet ispirit at 
mom would say " to horse." To sleep, per- 
chance to dream of Tatem and his household 
cemetery, and the Professor was heard mutter- 
ing in his chamber, 

** Weary, with toil, I haste me to mj bed, 
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired ; 
Bat then begins a journey in my head, 
To work my mind, when body's work 's expir'd," 

The morning was warm (the elevation of the 
hotel must be between 2500 and 8000 feet), 
rainy, mildly rainy; and the travelers had 
nothing better to do than lounge upon the 
veranda, read feeble ten-cent fictions, and ad- 
mire the stems of the white birches, glistening 
in the moisture, and the rhododendron trees, 
twenty feet high, which were shaking off their 
last pink blossoms, and look down into the val- 
ley of the Doe. It is not an exciting landscape, 
nothing bold or specially wild in it, but restful 
with the monotony of some of the wooded 
Pennsylvania hills. 


Sunday came up smiling, a lovely day, but 
offering no church privileges, for the ordinance 
of preaching is only occasional in this region. 
The ladies of the hotel have, however, gathered 
in the valley a Sunday-school of fifty children 
from the mountain cabins. A couple of rainy 
days, with the thermometer rising to 80*^, com- 
bined with natural laziness to detain the trav- 
elers in this cottage of ease. They enjoyed this 
the more because it was on their consciences 
that they should visit Linville Falls, some 
twenty-five miles eastward, long held up before 
them as the most magnificent feature of this 
region, and on no account to be omitted. 
Hence naturally a strong desire to omit it. 
The Professor takes bold ground against these 
abnormal freaks of nature, and it was nothing 
to him that the public would demand that we 
should see Linville Falls. In the first place we 
could find no one who had ever seen them, and 
we spent two days in catechizing natives and 
strangers. The nearest we came to informa- 
tion was from a workman at the furnace, who 
was bom and. raised within three miles of the 
Falls. He had heard of people going there. 
He had never seen them himself. It was a 
good twenty-five miles there, over the worst 
road in the State — we 'd think it thirty before 
we got there. Fifty miles of such travel to 


see a little water run down hill ! The travelers 
reflected. Every country has a local waterfall 
of which it boasts; they had seen a great 
many. One more woald add little to the expe- 
rience of life. The vagueness of information, 
to be sure, lured the travelers to undertake the 
* journey ; but the temptation was resisted — 
something ought to be left for the next ex- 
plorer — and so Linville remains a thing of the 

Towards evening, July 29th, between show- 
ers, -the Professor and the Friend rode along 
the narrow-gauge road, down Johnson's Creek, 
to Roan Station, the point of departure for 
ascending Roan Mountain. It was a ride of 
an hour and a half over a fair road, fringed 
with rhododendrons, nearly blossomless ; but at 
a point on the stream this sturdy shrub had 
formed a long bower where -under a table 
might have been set for a temperance picnic, 
completely overgrown with wild grape, and 
still gay with bloom. The habitations on the 
way are mostly board shanties and mean frame 
cabins, but . the railway is introducing ambi- 
tious architecture here and there in the form 
of ornamental filigree work on flimsy houses ; 
ornamentation is apt to precede comfort in our 

Roan Station is on the Doe River (which 


flows down from Roan Mountain), and is 
marked at 2650 feet above the sea. The vis- 
itor will find here a good hotel, with open wood 
fires (not ungrateful in a July evening), and 
obliging people. This railway from Johnson 
City, hanging on the edge of the precipices 
that wall the gorge of the Doe, is counted in 
this region by the inhabitants one of the engi« 
neering wonders of the world. The tourist is 
urged by all means to see both it and Linville 

The tourist on horseback, in search of exer- 
cise and recreation, is not probably expected 
to take stock of moral conditions. But this 
Mitchell County, although it was a Union 
county during the war and is Republican in 
politics (the Southern reader will perhaps pre- 
fer another adverb to " although '*), has had 
the worst possible reputation. The mountains 
were hiding-places of illicit distilleries; the 
woods were full of grog -shanties, where the 
inflaming fluid was sold as *' native brandy," 
quarrels and neighborhood difficulties were fre- 
quent, and the knife and pistol were used on 
the slightest provocation. Fights arose about 
boundaries and the title to mica mines, and 
with the revenue officers; and force was the 
arbiter of all disputes. Within the year four 
murders were committed in the sparsely set- 


tied county. Travel on any of the roads was 
unsafe. The tone of morals was what might be 
expected with such lawlessness. A lady who 
came up on the road on the 4th of July, when 
an excursion party of country people took pos- 
session of the cars, witnessed a scene and heard 
language past belief. Men, women, and chil- 
dren drank from whiskey bottles that contin- 
ually circulated, and a wild orgy resulted. 
Profanity, indecent talk on topics that even 
the license of the sixteenth century would not 
have tolerated, and freedom of manners that 
even Teniers would have shrunk from putting 
on canvas made the journey horrible. 

The unrestrained license of whiskey and as- 
sault and murder had produced a reaction a 
few months previous to our visit. The people 
had risen up in their indignation and broken 
up the groggeries. So far as we observed tem- 
perance prevailed, backed by public opinion. 
In our whole ride through the mountain region 
we saw only one or two places where liquor 
was sold. 

It is called twelve miles from Roan Station 
to Roan Summit. The distance is probably 
nearer fourteen, and our horses were five hours 
in walking it. For six miles the road runs by 
Doe River, here a pretty brook shaded with 
laurel and rhododendron, and a few cultivated 


patches of grouud and infrequent houses. It 
was a blithe morning, and the horsemen would 
have given full indulgence to the spirit of 
adventure but for the attitude of the Professor 
towards mountains. It was not with him a 
matter of feeling, but of principle, not to as- 
cend them. But here lay Roan, a long, sprawl- 
ing ridge, lifting itself 6250 feet up into the 
sky. Impossible to go around it, and the other 
side must be reached. The Professor was 
obliged to surrender, and surmount a difficulty 
which he could not philosophize out of his 

From the base of the mountain a road is 
very well engineered, in easy grades for car- 
riages, to the top ; but it was in poor repair 
and stony. We mounted slowly through splen- 
did forests, specially of fine chestnuts and hem- 
locks. This big timber continues till within a 
mile and a half of the summit by the winding 
road, really within a short distance of the top. 
Then there is a narrow belt of scrubby hard- 
wood, moss-grown, and then large balsams, 
which crown the mountain. As soon as we 
came out upon the southern slope we found 
great open spaces, covered with succulent 
grass, and giving excellent pasturage to cattle. 
These rich mountain meadows are found on 
all the heights of this region. The surface of 


Roan is uneven, and has no one culminating 
peak that commands the country, like the peak 
of Mount Washington, but several eminences 
within its range of probably a mile and a half, 
where various views can be had. Near the 
highest point, sheltered from the north by bal- 
sams, stands a house of entertainment, with a 
detached cottage, looking across the great val- 
ley to the Black Mountain range. The sur- 
face of the mountain is pebbly, but few rocks 
crop out ; no ledges of any size are seen ex- 
cept at a distance from the hotel, on the north 
side, and the mountain consequently lacks that 
savage, unsubduable aspect which the White 
Hills of New Hampshire have. It would, in 
fact, have been difficult to realize that we were 
over 6000 feet above the sea, except for that 
pallor in the sunlight, that atmospheric thin- 
ness and want , of color which is an unpleasant 
characteristic of high altitudes. To be sure, 
there is a certain brilliancy in the high air — 
it is apt to be foggy on Eoan — and objects 
appear in sharp outline, but I have often expe- 
rienced on such places that feeling of melan- 
choly, which would, of course, deepen upon us 
all if we were sensible that the sun was grad- 
ually withdrawing its power of warmth and 
light The black balsam is neither a cheerful 
nor a picturesque tree ; the frequent rains and 


miata on Hoan keep the grass and mosses 
green, but the ground damp. Doubtless a 
higli mountain covered with vegetation has its 
compensation, but for me the naked granite 
rocks in sun and shower are more cheerful. 

The advantage of Roan is that one can live 
there and be occupied for a long time in min- 
eral and botanical study. Its mild climate, 
moisture, and great elevation make it unique 
in this country for the botanist. The variety 
of plants assembled there is very large, and 
there are many, we were told, never or rarely 
found elsewhere in the United States. At any 
rate the botanists rave about Roan Mountain 
and spend weeks on it at a time. We found 
there ladies who could draw for us Grey's lily 
(then passed), and had kept specimens of the 
rhododendron (not growing elsewhere in this 
region), which has a deep red, almost purple 

The hotel (since replaced by a good house) 
was a rude mountain structure, with a couple of 
comfortable rooms for office and sitting-room, in 
which big wood fires were blazing ; for though 
the thermometer might record 60°, as it did 
when we arrived, fire was welcome. Sleeping 
places partitioned ofiE in the loft above gave the 
occupants a feeling of camping out, all the con- 
veniences being primitive ; and when the wind 


rose in the night and darkness, and the loose 
boards rattled and the timbers creaked, the 
sensation was not unlike that of being at sea. 
The hotel was satisfactorily kept, and Southern 
guests, from as far south as New Orleans, were 
spending the season there, and not finding time 
hang heavy on their hands. This statement is 
perhaps worth more than pages of description 
as to the character of Roan, and its contrast 
to Mount Washington. 

The summer weather is exceedingly uncertain 
on all these North Carolina mountains ; they 
are apt at any moment to be enveloped in mist; 
and it would rather rain on them than not. 
On the afternoon of our arrival there was fine 
air and fair weather, but not a clear sky. The 
distance was hazy, but the outlines were pre- 
served. We could see White Top, in Virginia ; 
Grandfather Mountain, a long serrated range ; 
the twin towers of Linville ; and the entire 
range of the Black Mountains, rising from the 
valley, and apparently lower than we were. 
They get the name of Black from the balsams 
which cover the summits. 

The rain on Roan was of less annoyance by 
reason of the delightful company assembled at 
the hotel, which was in a manner at home 
there, and, thrown upon its own resources, 
came out uncommonly strong in agreeablenes& 


There was a fiddle in the house, which had 
some of the virtues of that celebrated in the 
history of old Mark Langston ; the Professor 
was enabled to produce anything desired out of 
the literature of the eighteenth century; and 
what with the repartee of bright women, big 
wood fires, reading, and chat, there was no dull 
day or evening on Roan. I can fancy, however, 
that it might tire in time, if one were not a 
botanist, without the resource of women's so- 
ciety. The ladies staying here were probably 
an accomplished botanists, and the writer is 
indebted to ope of them for a list of plants 
found on Roan, among which is an interesting 
weed, catalogued as Humana^ perplexia negli- 
gens. The species is, however, common else- 

The second morning opened, after a night of 
high wind, with a thunder shower. After it 
passed, the visitors tried to reach Eagle Cliff, 
two miles off, whence an extensive western 
prospect is had, but were driven back by a 
tempest, and rain practically occupied the day. 
Now and then through the parted clouds we 
got a glimpse of a mountain-side, or the gleam 
of a valley. On the lower mountains, at wide 
intervals apart, were isolated settlements, com- 
monly a wretched cabin and a spot of girdled 
trees. A clergyman here, not long ago, under- 


took to visit some of these cabins and carry 
his message to them. In one wretched hut of 
logs he foand a poor woman, with whom, after" 
conversation on serioas subjects, he desired to 
pray. She oflEered no objection, and he kneeled 
down and prayed. The woman heard him, and 
watched him for some moments with curiosity, 
in an effort to ascertain what he was doing, 
and then said : — 

" Why, a man did that when he put my girl 
in a hole." 

Towards night the wind hauled round from 
the south to the northwest, and we went to 
High Bluff, a point on the north edge, where 
some rocks are piled up above the evergreens, 
to get a view of the sunset. In every direction 
the mountains were clear, and a view was ob- 
tained of the vast horizon and the hills and 
lowlands of several States — a continental pros- 
pect, scarcely anywhere else equaled for vari- 
ety or distance. The grandeur of mountains 
depends mostly on the state of the atmos- 
phere. Grandfather loomed up much more lof- 
tily than the day before, the giant range of 
the Blacks asserted itself in grim inaccessibility, 
and we could see, a small pyramid on the south- 
west horizon. King's Mountain in South Caro- 
lina, estimated to be distant one hundred and 
fifty miles. To the north Roan falls from this 


point abruptly, and we had, like a toap below 
us, the low country all the way into Virginia. 
The clouds lay like lakes in the valleys of the 
lower bills, and in every direction were ranges 
of mountains wooded to the summits. Off to 
the west by south lay the Great Smoky Moun- 
tains, disputing eminence with the Blacks. 

Magnificent and impressive as the spectacle 
was, we were obliged to contrast it unfavorably 
with that of the White Hills. The rock here is 
a sort of sand or pudding stone ; there is no 
limestone or granite. And all the hills are tree- 
covered. To many this clothing of verdure is 
most restful and pleasing. I missed the sharp 
outlines, the delicate artistic sky lines, sharply 
defined in uplifted bare granite peaks and 
ridges, with the purple and violet color of the 
northern mountains, and which it seems to me 
that limestone and granite formations give. 
There are none of the great gorges and awful 
abysses of the White Mountains, both valleys 
and mountains here being more uniform in out- 
line. There are few precipices and jutting 
crags, and less is visible of the giant ribs and 
bones of the planet. 

Yet Roan is a noble mountain. A lady from 
Tennessee asked me if I had ever seen any- 
thing to compare with it — she thought there 
could be nothing in the world. One has to 


dodge this sort of question in the South occa- 
sionally, not to offend a just local pride. It is 
certainly one of the most habitable of big moun- 
tains. It is roomy on top, there is space to 
move about without too great fatigue, and one 
might pleasantly spend a season there, if he 
had agreeable company and natural tastes. 

Getting down from Roan on the south side 
is not as easy as ascending on the north ; the 
road for five miles to the foot of the mountain 
is merely a river of pebbles, gullied by the 
heavy rains, down which the horses picked 
their way painfully. The travelers endeavored 
to present a dashing and cavalier appearance to 
the group of ladies who waved good-by from 
the hotel, as they took their way over the 
waste and wind-blown declivities, but it was 
only a show, for the horses would neither car- 
acole nor champ the bit (at a dollar a day) 
down hill over the slippery stones, and, 
truth to tell, the wanderers turned with regret 
from the society of leisure and persiflage to 
face the wilderness of Mitchell County. " How 
heavy," exclaimed the Professor, pricking Laura 
Matilda to call her attention sharply to her 
footing : — 

" How heavy do I journey on the way, 
When what I seek — my weary travel's end — 
Doth teach that ease and that repose to say, 


' TbuB far the miles are measar'd from thy friend ! ' 
The heast that hears me, tired with mj woe, 
Floda dully on, to bear that weight in me, 
As if by some instinct the wretch did know 
His rider loved not speed, being made from thee : 
The bloody spnr cannot provoke him on 
That sometimes anger throsts into his hide, 
Which heavily he answers with a groan, 
More sharp to me than sparring to his side ; 

For that same g^an doth put this in my mind ; 

My grief lies onward and my joy behind." 

This was not spoken to the group who fluttered 
their farewells, but poured out to the uncom- 
plaining forest, which rose up in ever statelier 
and grander ranks to greet the travelers as they 
descended — the silent vast forest, without note 
of bird or chip of squirrel, only the wind toss- 
ing the great branches high overhead in re- 
sponse to the sonnet. Is there any region or 
circumstance of life that the poet did not fore- 
cast and provide for? But what would have 
been his feelings if he could have known that 
almost three centuries after these lines were 
penned, they would be used to express the 
emotion of an unsentimental traveler in the 
primeval forests of the New World ? At any 
rate he peopled the New World with the chil- 
dren of his imagination. And, thought the 
Friend, whose attention to his horse did not 
permit him to drop into poetry, Shakespeare 
might have had a vision of this vast continent, 


though he did not refer to it, when he ex# 

claimed : — 

" What is jovLT sabstance, whereof are you made. 
That millions of strange shadows on you tend ? " 

Bakersville, the capital of Mitchell County, 
is eight miles from the top of Roan, and the 
last three miles of the way the horsemen found 
tolerable going, over which the horses could 
show their paces. The valley looked fairly 
thrifty and bright, and was a pleasing introduc- 
tion to Bakersville, a pretty place in the hills, 
of some six hundred inhabitants, with two 
churches, three indifferent hotels, and a court- 
house. This mountain town, 2550 feet above 
the sea, is said to have a decent winter climate, 
with little snow, favorable to fruit-growing, and, 
by contrast with New England, encouraging to 
people with weak lungs. 

This is the centre of the mica mining, and of 
considerable excitement about minerals. All 
around, the hills are spotted with " diggings.'* 
Most of the mines which yield well show signs 
of having been worked before, a very long time 
ago, no doubt by the occupants before the In- 
dians. The mica is of excellent quality and 
easily mined. It is got out in large irregular- 
shaped blocks and transported to the factories, 
where it is carefully split by hand, and the 
laminae, of as large size as can be obtained, are 


trimmed with shears and tied up in packages 
for market. The quantity of refuse, broken, 
and rotten ^lica piled up about the factories is 
immense, and all the roads round about glisten 
with its scales. Gramets are often found im- 
bedded in the laminae, flattened by the extreme 
pressure to which the mass was subjected. It 
is fascinating material, this mica, to handle, 
and we amused ourselves by experimenting on 
the thinness to which its scales could be re- 
duced by splitting. It was at Bakersville that 
we saw specimens of mica that resembled the 
delicate tracery in the moss-agate, and had the 
iridescent sheen of the rainbow colors — the 
most delicate greens, reds, blues, purples, and 
gold, changing from one to the other in the 
reflected light. In the texture were the trac- 
ings of fossil forms of ferns and the most ex- 
quisite and delicate vegetable beauty of the 
coal age. But the magnet shows this tracery 
to be iron. We were shown also emeralds and 
" diamonds," picked up in this region, and there 
is a mild expectation in all the inhabitants of 
great mineral treasure. A singular product of 
the region is the flexible sandstone. It is a 
most uncanny stone. A slip of it a couple of 
feet long and an inch in diameter each way 
bends in the hand like a half frozen snake. 
This conduct of a substance that we have been 


taaght to regard as inflexible impairs one's con- 
fidence in the stability of nature and affects 
him as an earthquake does. 

This excitement over mica and other miner- 
als has the usual effect of starting up business 
and creating bad blood. Fortunes have been 
made, and lost in riotous living ; scores of vis- 
ionary men have been disappointed; lawsuits 
about titles and claims have multiplied, and 
quarrels ending in murder have been frequent 
in the past few years. The mica and the illicit 
whiskey have worked together to make this 
region one of lawlessness and violence. The 
travelers were told stories of the lack of com- 
mon morality and decency in the region, but 
they made no note of them. And, perhaps 
fortunately, they were not there during court 
week to witness the scenes of license that were 
described. This court week, which draws 
hither the whole population, is a sort of Satur- 
nalia. Perhaps the worst of this is already a 
thing of the past ; for the outrages a year be- 
fore had reached such a pass that by a com- 
mon movement the sale of whiskey was stopped 
(not interdicted, but stopped), and not a drop 
of liquor. could be bought in Bakersville nor 
within three miles of it. 

The jail at Bakersville is a very simple resi- 
dence. The main building is brick, two stories 


high and about twelve feet square. The walls 
are so loosely laid up that it seems as if a 
colored prisoner might butt his head through. 
Attached to this \a a room for the jailer. In 
the lower room is a wooden cage, made of logs 
bolted together and filled with spikes, nine feet 
by ten feet square and perhaps seven or eight 
feet high. Between this cage and the wall is 
a space of eighteen inches in width. It has a 
narrow door, and an opening through which 
the food is passed to the prisoners, and a con- 
duit leading out of it. Of course it soon be- 
comes foul, and in warm weather somewhat 
warm. A recent prisoner, who wanted more 
ventilation than the State allowed him, found 
some means, by a loose plank, I think, to batter 
a hole in the outer wall opposite the window in 
the cage, and this ragged opening, seeming to 
the jailer a good sanitary arrangement, re- 
mains. Two murderers occupied this apart- 
ment at the time of our visit. During the 
recent session of court, ten men had been con- 
fined in this narrow space, without room enough 
for them to lie down together. The cage in 
the room above, a little larger, had for tenant 
a person who was jailed for some misunder- 
standing about an account, and who was prob- 
ably innocent — from the jailer's statement. 
This box is a wretched residence, month after 
month, while awaiting trial. 


We learned on inquiry that it is practically 
impossible to get a jury to convict of murder 
in this region, and that these admitted felons 
would undoubtedly escape. We even heard 
that juries were purchasable here, and that a 
man's success in court depended upon the 
length of his purse. This is such an unheard- 
of thing that we refused to credit it. When 
the Friend attempted to arouse the indignation 
of the Professor about the barbarity of this jail, 
the latter defended it on the ground that as 
confinement was the only punishment that 
murderers were likely to receive in this region, 
it was well to make their detention disagree- 
able to them. But the Friend did not like this 
wild-beast cage for men, and could only ex- 
claim, ^' Oh, murder I what crimes are done in 
thy name." 

If the comrades wished an adventure,, they 
had a small one, more interesting to them than 
to the public, the morning they left Bakers- 
ville to ride to Burnsville, which sets itself up 
as the capital of Yancey. The way for the 
first three miles lay down a small creek and in 
a valley fairly settled, the houses, a store, and 
a grist-mill giving evidence of the new enter- 
prise of the region. When Toe River was 
reached there was a choice of routes. We 
might ford the Toe at that point, where the 


river was wide, but shallow, and the crossing 

safe, and climb over the mountain by a rough 

but sightly road, or descend the stream by a 

better road and ford the river at a place rather 

dangerous to those unfamiliar vfith it. The 

danger attracted us, but we promptly chose 

the bill road on account of the views, for we* 

were weary of the limited valley prospects. 

The Toe River, even here, where it bears 
westward, is a very respectable stream in size, 
and not to be trifled with after a shower. It 
gradually turns northward, and joining the 
Nollechucky becomes part of the Tennessee 
system. We crossed it by a long, diagonal 
ford, slipping and sliding about on the round 
stones, and began the ascent of a steep hill. 
The sun beat down unmercifully, the way was 
stony, and the horses did not relish the weary 
climbipg. The Professor, who led the way, 
not for the sake of leadership but to be the 
discoverer of laden blackberry bushes, which 
began to offer occasional refreshment, discour- 
aged by the inhospitable road and perhaps 
oppressed by the moral backwardness of things 
in general, cried out : — 

" Tired with all these, for restful death I cry, — 
As, to behold desert a beggar bom, 
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity. 
And purest faith unhappily forsworn, 


And gilded honor sbamefully misplaced, 
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted, 
And right perfection wrongfully disgraced, 
And strength by limping sway disabled. 
And art made tongue-tied by authority. 
And folly (doctor-like) controlling skill. 
And simple truth miscall'd simplicity. 
And captive good attending captain ill : 
Tired with all these, from these would I be gone, 
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.'' 

In the midst of a lively discussion of this 
pessimistic view of the inequalities of life, in 
which desert and capacity are so often put at 
disadvantage by birth in beggarly conditions, 
and brazen assumption raises the dust from its 
chariot wheels for modest merit to plod along 
in, the Professor swung himself oflE his horse 
to attack a blackberry bush, and the Friend, 
representing simple truth, and desirous of get- 
ting a wider prospect, urged his horse up the 
hill. At the top he encountered a stranger, 
on a sorrel horse, with whom he entered into 
conversation and extracted all the discourage- 
ment the man had as to the road to Burns- 

Nevertheless, the view opened finely and ex- 
tensively. There are few exhilarations com- 
parable to that of riding or walking along a 
high ridge, and the spirits of the traveler rose 
many degrees above the point of restful death, 
for which the Professor was crying when he 


encountered the blackberry bushes. Luckily 
the Friend soon fell m with a like temptation, 
and dismounted. He discovered something 
that spoiled his appetite for berries. His coat, 
strapped on behind the saddle, had worked 
loose, the pocket was open, and the pocket- 
book was gone. This was serious business. 
For while the Professor was the cashier, and 
traveled like a Rothschild, with large drafts, 
the Friend represented the sub-treasury. That 
Yery morning, in response to inquiry as to the 
sinews of travel, the Friend had displayed, 
without counting, a roll of bills. These bills 
had now disappeared, and when the Friend 
turned back to. communicate his loss, in the 
character of needy nothing not trimm'd in jol- 
lity, he had a sympathetic listener to the tale 
of woe. 

Going back on such a journey is the woeful- 
est experience, but retrace our steps we must. 
Perhaps the pocket-book lay in the road not 
half a mile back. But not in a half a mile, or 
a mile, was it found. Probably, then, the man 
on the sorrel horse had picked it up. But who 
was the man on the sorrel horse, and where 
had he gone ? Probably the coat worked loose 
in crossing Toe River and the pocket-book had 
gone down stream. The number of probabili- 
ties was infinite, and each more plausible than 


the others as it occurred to us. We. inquired 
at every house we had passed on the way, we 
questioned every one we met. At length it 
began to seem improbable that any one would 
remember if he had picked up a pocket-book 
that morning. This is just the sort of thing 
that slips an untrained memory. 

At a post-office or doctor's shop, or inn for 
drovers, it might be either or neither, where 
several horses were tied to the fence, and a 
group of men were tilted back in cane chairs 
on the veranda, we unfolded our misfortune 
and made particular inquiries for a man on a 
sorrel horse. Yes, such a man, David Thomas 
by name, had just ridden towards Bakersville. 
If he had found the pocket-book, we would re- 
cover it. He was an honest man. It might, 
however, fall into hands that would freeze to 
it. Upon consultation, it was the general ver- 
dict that there were men in the county who 
would keep it if they had picked it up. But 
the assembly manifested the liveliest interest 
in the incident. One suggested Toe River. 
Another thought it risky to drop a purse on 
any road. But there was a chorus of desire 
expressed that we should find it, and in this 
anxiety was exhibited a decided sensitiveness 
about the honor of Mitchell County. It seemed 
too bad that a stranger should go away with 


the impression that it was not safe to leave 
money anywhere in it. We felt very much 
obliged for this genuine sympathy, and we told 
them that if a pocket-book were lost in this 
way on a Connecticut road, there would be felt 
no neighborhood responsibility for it, and that 
nobody would take any interest in the incident 
except the man who lost, and the man who 

By the time the travelers pulled up at a 
store in Bakersville they had lost all expecta- 
tion of recovering the missing article, and were 
discussing the investment of more money in an 
advertisement in the weekly newspaper of the 
capital. The Professor, whose reform senti- 
ments agreed with those of the newspaper, 
advised it. There was a group of idlers, mica 
acquaintances of the morning, and philoso- 
phers in front of the store, and the Friend 
opened the colloquy by asking if a man named 
David Thomas had been seen in town. He 
was in town, had ridden in within an hour, and 
his brother, who was in the group, would go 
in search of him. The information was then 
given of the loss, and that the rider had met 
David Thomas just before it was discovered, 
on the mountain beyond the Toe. The news 
made a sensation, and by the time David 
Thomas appeared a crowd of a hundred had 


drawn around the horsemen eager for further 
developments. Mr. Thomas was the least ex- 
cited of the group as he took his position on 
the sidewalk, conscious of the dignity of the 
occasion and that he was about to begin a duel 
in which both reputation and profit were con- 
cerned. He recollected meeting the travelers 
in the morning. 

The Friend said, " I discovered that I had 
lost my purse just after meeting you ; it may 
have been dropped in Toe River, but I was 
told back here that if David Thomas had 
picked it up it was as safe as if it were in 
the bank." 

"What sort of a pocket-book was it?" 
asked Mr. Thomas. 

"It was of crocodile skin, or what is sold 
for that, very likely it is an imitation, and 
about so large " — indicating the size. 

"What had it in it?" 

" Various things. Some specimens of mica ; 
some bank checks , some money." 

"Anything else?" 

"Yes, a photograph. And, oh, something 
that I presume is not in another pocket-book 
in North Carolina, — in an envelope, a lock of 
the hair of George Washington, the Father of 
his Country." Sensation, mixed with incredu- 
lity. Washington's hair did seem such an odd 
part of an outfit for a journey of this kind. 


" How much money was in it ? " 
**' That i cannot say, exactly. I happen to 
remember four twenty dollar United States 
notes, and a roll of small bills, perhaps some- 
thing over a hundred dollars." 

" Is that the pocket-book ? " asked David 
Thomas, slowly pulling the loved and lost out 
of his trousers pocket. 
** It is." 

** You 'd be willing to take your oath on 

** I should be delighted to." 
** Well, I guess there ain't so much money in 
it. You can count it (handing it over) ; there 
hain't been nothing taken out. I can't read, 
but my friend here counted it over, and he 
says there ain't as much as that." 

Intense interest in the result of the counting. 
One hundred and ten dollars ! The Friend se- 
lected one of the best engraved of the notes, 
and appealed to the crowd if they thought that 
was the square thing to do. They did so think, 
and David Thomas said it was abundant. And 
then said the Friend : — 

"I'm exceedingly grateful to you besides. 
Washington's hair is getting scarce, and I did 
not want to lose these few hairs, gray as they 
are. You 've done the honest thing, Mr. 
Thomas, as was expected of you. You might 


have kept the whole. But I reckon if there 
had been five hundred dollars in the book and 
you had kept it, it wouldn't have done you 
half as much good as giving it up has done ; 
and your reputation as an honest man is worth 
a good deal more than this pocket-book. [The 
Professor was delighted with this sentiment, 
because it reminded him of a Sunday-school.] 
I shall go away with a high opinion of the hon- 
esty of Mitchell County." 

" Oh, he li^es in Yancey," cried two or three 
voices. At which there was a great laugh. 

"Well, I wondered where he came from." 
And the Mitchell County people laughed again 
at their own expense, and the levee broke up. 
It was exceedingly gratifying, as we spread the 
news of the recovered property that afternoon 
at every house on our way to the Toe, to see 
what pleasure it gave. Every man appeared 
to feel that the honor of the region had been 
on trial and had stood the test. 

The eighteen miles to Bumsville had now 
to be added to the morning excursion, but the 
travelers were in high spirits, feeling the truth 
of the adage that it is better to have loved and 
lost, than never to have lost at all. They de- 
cided, on reflection, to join company with the 
mail-rider, who was going to Burnsvillq by the 
shorter route, and could pilot them over the 
dangerous ford of the Toe. 


The mail-rider was a lean, sallow, sinewy 
man, mounted on a sorry sorrel nag, who 
proved, how^ever, to have blood in her, and to 
be a fast w^alker and full of endurance. The 
mail-rider was taciturn, a natural habit for a 
man who rides alone the year round, over a 
lonely road, and has nothing whatever to think 
of. He had been in the war sixteen months, 
in Hugh White's regiment, — reckon you 've 
heerd of him ? 

" Confederate ? " ♦ 


" Was he on the Union or Confederate 

" Oh, Union." 

" Were you in any engagements ? " 

" Did you have any fighting ? " 
" Ifot reg'lar." 
"What did you do? ^' 
" Which ? " 

"What did you do in Hugh White's regi- 
ment ? " 

" Oh, just cavorted round the mountains." 
" You lived on the country ? " 

"Picked up what you could find, com, bacon, 

" That 's about so. Did n't make much dif- 


ference which side was round, the country got 
cleaned out." 

" Plunder seems to have been the object ? " 


" You got a living out of the farmers ? " 

" You bet." 

Our friend and guide seemed to have been 
a jayhawker and mountain marauder — on the 
right side. His attachment to the word 
" which " prevented any lively flow of con- 
versation, aHid there seemed to be only two 
trains of ideas running in his mind : one was 
the subject of horses and saddles, and the 
other was the danger of the ford we were com- 
ing to, and he exhibited a good deal of inge- 
nuity in endeavoring to excite our alarm. He 
returned to the ford from every other conver- 
sational excursion, and after every silence. " I 
do' know 's there 's any great danger ; not if 
you know the ford. Folks is carried away 
there. The Toe gits up sudden. There 's 
been right smart rain lately. If you 're afraid, 
you can git set over in a dugout, and I '11 take 
your horses across. Mebbe you're used to 
fording? It's a pretty bad ford for them as 
don't know it. But you'll get along, if you 
mind your eye. There 's some rocks you '11 
have to look out for. But you '11 be all right, 
if you follow me." 


Not being very successful in raising an in- 
terest in tlie dangers of his ford, although he 
could not forego indulging a malicious pleasure 
in trying to make the strangers uncomfortable, 
he finally turned his attention to a trade. 
" This boss of mine," he said, " is just the 
kind of brute-beast you want for this country. 
Your bosses is too heavy. How '11 you swap for 
that one o' youm ? " The reiterated assertion 
that tbe horses were not ours, that they were 
hired, made little impression on hhn. AH the 
way to Bumsville he kept referring to the sub- 
ject of a trade. The instinct of " swap " was 
strong in him; When we met a yoke of steers, 
he turned round and bantered the owner for a 
trade. Our saddles took his fancy. They were 
of the army pattern, and he allowed that one 
of them would just suit him. He rode a small 
flat English pad, across which was flung the 
United States mail pouch, apparently empty. 
He dwelt upon the fact that his saddle was 
new and ours were old, and the advantages 
that would accrue to us from the exchange. He 
did n't care if they had been through the war, 
as they had, for he fancied an army saddle. 
The Friend answered for himself that the sad- 
dle he rode belonged to a distinguished Union 
general, and had a bullet in it that was put there 
by a careless Confederate in the first battle of 


Bull Run, and the owner would not part with 
it for money. But the mail-rider said he did n't 
mind that. He would n't mind swapping his 
new saddle for my old one and the rubber coat 
and leggins. Long before we reached the ford 
we thought we would like to swap the guide, 
even at the risk of drowning. The ford was 
passed, in due time, with no inconvenience save 
that of wet feet, for the stream was breast high 
to the horses ; but being broad and swift and 
full of sunken rocks and slippery stoned and 
the crossing tortuous, it is not a ford to be com- 
mended. There is a curious delusion that a 
rider has in crossing a swift broad stream. It 
is that he is rapidly drifting, up stream, while 
in fact the tendency of the horse is to go with 
the current. 

The road in the afternoon was not unpictu* 
resque, owing to the streams and the ever noble 
forests, but the prospect was always very lim- 
ited. Agriculturally, the country was mostly 
undeveloped. The travelers endeavored to get 
from the rider an estimate of the price of land. 
Not much sold, he said. '^' There was one sale 
of a big piece last year ; the owner enthorited 
Big Tom Wilson to sell it, but I d' know what 
he got for it." 

All the way along the habitations were small 
log cabins, with one room, chinked with mud, 


and these were far between ; and only occasion- 
ally thereby a similar log structare, unchinked, 
laid up like a cob house, that served for a 
stable. Not much cultivation, except now and 
then a little patch of poor corn on a steep hill- 
side, occasionally a few apple-trees, and a peach- 
tree without fruit. Here and there was a house 
that had been half finished and then abandoned, 
or a shanty in which a couple of young married 
people were just beginning life. Generally the 
cabins (confirming the accuracy of the census 
of 1880) swarmed with children, and nearly all 
the women were thin and sickly. 

In the day's ride we did not see a wheeled 
vehicle, and only now and then a horse. We 
met on the road small sleds, drawn by a steer, 
sometimes by a cow, on which a bag of grist 
was being hauled to the mill, and boys mounted 
on steers gave us good evening with as much 
pride as if they were bestriding fiery horses. . 

In a house of the better class, which was a 
post4iouse, and where the rider and the woman 
of the house had a long consultation over a 
letter to be registered, we found the rooms 
decorated with patent-medicine pictures, which 
were often framed in strips of mica, an evi- 
dence of culture that was worth noting. Mica 
was the rage. Every one with whom we talked, 
except the rider, had more or less the mineral 


fever. The impression was general that the 
mountain region of North Carolina was enter- 
ing upon a career of wonderful mineral develop- 
ment, and the most extravagant expectations 
were entertained. Mica was the shining object 
of most "prospecting," but gold was also on 
the cards. 

The country about Burnsville is not only 
mildly picturesque, but very pleasing. Burns- 
ville, the county-seat of Yancey, at an eleva- 
tion of 2840 feet, is more like a New England 
village than any hitherto seen. Most of the 
houses stand about a square, which contains the 
shabby court-house ; around it are two small 
churches, a jail, an inviting tavern, with a long 
veranda, and a couple of stores. On an over- 
looking hill is the seminary. Mica mining is 
the exciting industry, but it is agriculturally a 
good country. The tavern had recently been 
enlarged to meet the new demands for enter- 
tainment, and is a roomy structure, fresh with 
paint and only partially organized. The 'trav- 
elers were much impressed with the brilliant 
chambers, the floors of which were painted in 
alternate stripes of vivid green and red. The 
proprietor, a very intelligent and enterprising 
man, who had traveled often in the North, was 
full of projects for the development of his re- 
gion and foremost in its enterprises, and had 


formed a considerable collection of minerals. 
Besides, nacre than any one else we met, he 
appreciated the beauty of his country, and took 
us to a neighboring hill, where we had a view 
of Table Mountain to the east and the nearer 
giant Blacks. The elevation of Burnsville gives 
it a delightful summer climate, the gentle un- 
dulations of the country are agreeable, the views 
noble, the air is good, and it is altogether a 
*' livable " and attractive place. With facilities 
of communication, it would be a favorite sum- 
mer resort. Its nearness to the great mountains 
(the whole Black range is in Yancey County), 
its fine pure air, its opportunity for fishing and 
hunting, commend it to those in search of an 
interesting and restful retreat in summer. 

But it should be said that before the country 
can attract and retain travelers, its inhabitants 
must learn something about the preparation of 
food. If, for instance, the landlord's wife at 
Burnsville had traveled with her husband, her 
table would probably have been more on a level 
with his knowledge of the world, and it would 
have contained something that the wayfaring 
man, though a Northerner, could eat. We have 
been on the point several times in this journey 
of making the observation, but have been re- 
strained by a reluctance to touch upon politics, 
that it was no wonder that a people with such 


a cuisine should have rebelled. The travelers 
were in a rebellious mood most of the time. 

The evidences of enterprise in this region 
were pleasant to see, but the observers could 
not but regret, after all, the intrusion of the 
money-making spirit, which is certain to destroy- 
much of the present simplicity. It is as yet, 
to a degree, tempered by a philosophic spirit. 
The other guest of the house was a sedate, 
long -bearded traveler for some Philadelphia 
house, and in the evening he and the landlord 
fell into a conversation upon what Socrates calls 
the disadvantage of the pursuit of wealth to 
the exclusion of all noble objects, and they let 
their fancy play about Vanderbilt, who was 
agreed to be the richest man in the world, or 
that ever lived. 

"All I want," said the long-bearded man, 
"is enough to be comfortable. I would n't 
have Vanderbilt's wealth if he 'd give it to me." 

" Nor I," said the landlord. " Give me just 
enough to be comfortable. [The tourist could 
n't but note that his ideas of enough to be 
comfortable had changed a good deal since he 
had left his little farm and gone into the mica 
business, and visited New York, and enlarged 
and painted his tavern.] I -should like to know 
what more Vanderbilt gets out of his money 
than I get out of mine. I heard tell of a young 


man who went to Vanderbilt to get employ- 
ment. Vanderbilt finally offered to give the 
young man, if he would work for him, just 
what he got himself. The young man jumped 
at that — he 'd be perfectly satisfied with that 
pay. And Vanderbilt said that all he got was 
what he could eat and wear, and offered to give 
the young man his board and clothes." 

" I declare," said the long - bearded man. 
" That 's just it. Did you ever see Vander- 
bilt's house ? Neither did I, but I heard he 
had a vault built in it five feet thick, solid. 
He put in it two hundred millions of dollars, in 
gold. After a year, he opened it and put in 
twelve millions more, and called that a poor 
year. They say his house has gold shutters 
to the windows, so I Ve heard." 

" I should n't wonder," said the landlord. " I 
heard he had one door in his house cost forty 
thousand dollars. 1 don't know what it is 
made of, unless it 's made of gold." 

Sunday was a hot and quiet day. The stores 
were closed and the two churches also, this not 
being the Sunday for the itinerant preacher. 
The jail also showed no sign of life, and when 
we asked about it, we learned that it was 
empty, and had been for some time. No liquor 
is sold in the place, nor within at least three 
miles of it. It is not much use to try to run a 
jail without liquor. 


In the course of the morning a couple of 
stout fellows arrived, leading between them a 
young man whom they had arrested, — it did 
n't appear on any warrant, but they wanted 
to get him committed and locked up. The of- 
fense charged was carrying a pistol ; the boy 
had not used it against anybody, but he had 
flourished it about and threatened, and the 
neighbors would n't stand that; they were 
bound to enforce the law against carrying con- 
cealed weapons. 

The captors were perfectly good-natured and 
on friendly enough terms with the young man, 
who offered no resistance, and seemed not ui>- 
willing to go to jail. But a practical difficulty 
arose. The jail was locked up, the sheriff had 
gone away into the country with the key, and 
no one could get in. It did not appear that 
there was any provision for boarding the man 
in jail ; no one in fact kept it. The sheriff was 
sent for, but was not to be found, and the 
prisoner and his captors loafed about the square 
all day, sitting on the fence, rolling on the 
grass, all of them sustained by a simple trust 
that the jail would be open some time. 

Late in the afternoon we left them there, try- 
ing to get into the jail. But we took a per- 
sonal leaf out of this experience. Our Virginia 
friends, solicitous for our safety in this wild 


connlnry, liad urged us not to ventare into it 
iTritlioiii^ arms — take at least, they insisted, a 
reirolver each. And now we had to congratu- 
late ouxrselves that we had not done so. If we 
liad, 'we should doubtless on that Sunday have 
l>eexi. ^waiting, with the other law-breaker, for 
admission into the Yanoey County jaiL 


Fbom Bumsville the next point in our route 
was Asheyille, the most considerable city in 
western North Carolina, a resort of fashion, and 
the capital of Buncombe County. It is distant 
some forty to forty-five miles, too long a jour- 
ney for one day over such roads. The easier 
and common route is by the Ford of Big Ivy, 
eighteen miles, — the first stopping place ; and 
that was a long ride for the late afternoon 
when we were in condition to move. 

The landlord suggested that we take another 
route, stay that night on Caney River with Big 
Tom Wilson, only eight miles from Burnsville, 
cross Mt. Mitchell, and go down the valley of 
the Swannanoa to Asheville. He represented 
this route as shorter and infinitely more pictu- 
resque. There was nothing worth seeing on the 
Big Ivy way. With scarcely a moment's re- 
flection, and while the horses were saddling, we 
decided to ride to Big Tom Wilson's. I could 
not at the time understand, and I cannot now, 
why the Professor consented. I should hardly 
dare yet confess to my fixed purpose to ascend 


Mt. Mitchell. It was equally fixed in the Pro- 
fessor's mind not to do it. We had not dis- 
cussed it much. But it is safe to say that if he 
had one well defined purpose on this trip, it 
was not to climb Mitchell. " Not," as he put 

" Not mine own fears, nor the prophetic soul 
Of the wide world dreaming on things to come/' 

had suggested the possibility that he could 
do it. 

But at the moment the easiest thing to do 
seemed to be to ride down to Wilson's. When 
there we could turn across country to the Big 
Ivy, although, jsaid the landlord, you can ride 
over Mitchell just as easy as anywhere — a 
lady rode plump over thQ peak of it last week, 
and never got oS. her horse. You are not 
obliged to go ; at Big Tom's, you can go any 
way you please. 

Besides, Big Tom himself weighed in the 
scale more than Mt. Mitchell, and not to see 
him was to miss one of the most characteristic 
productions of the country, the typical back- 
woodsman, hunter, guide. So we rode down 
Boiling Creek, through a pretty, broken coun- 
try, crossed the Caney River, and followed it 
up a few miles to Wilson's plantation. There 
are little intervales along the river, where hay 
is cut and corn grown, but the region is not 


muoh cleared, and the stock browse about in 
the forest. Wilson is the agent of the New 
York owner of a tract of some thirteen thou- 
sand acres of forest, including the greater por- 
tion of Mt. Mitchell, a wilderness well stocked 
with bears and deer, and full of streams 
abounding in trout. It is also the playground 
of the rattlesnake. With all these attractions 
Big Tom's life is made lively in watching game 
poachers, and endeavoring to keep out the for- 
aging cattle of the few neighbors. It is not 
that the cattle do much injury in the forest, 
but the looking after them is made a pretense 
for roaming around, and the roamers are liable 
to have to defend themselves against the deer, 
or their curiosity is excited about the bears, 
and lately they have taken to exploding powder 
in the streams to kill the fish. 

Big Tom's plantation has an open-work sta- 
ble, an ill-put-together frame house, with two 
rooms and a kitchen, and a veranda in front, 
a loft, and a spring-house in the rear. Chick- 
ens and other animals have free run of the 
premises. Some fish-rods hung in the porch, 
and hunter's gear depended on hooks in the 
passage-way to the kitchen. In one room were 
three beds, in the other two, only one in the 
kitchen. On the porch was a loom, with a 
piece of cloth in process. The establishment 


had the air of taking care of itself. Neither 
Big Tom nor his wife were at home. Sunday 
seemed to be a visiting day, and the travelers 
had met many parties on horseback. Mrs. 
Wilson was away for a visit of a day or two. 
One of the sons, who was lounging on the ve- 
randa, ^was at last induced to put up the horses ; 
a very old woman, who mumbled and glared at 
the visitors, was found in the kitchen, but no 
intelligible response could be got out of her. 
Presently a bright little girl, the housekeeper 
in charge, appeared. She said that her Paw 
had gone up to her brother's (her brother was 
just married and lived up the river in the 
house where Mr. Murchison stayed when he 
was here) to see if he could ketch a bear that 
had been rootin' round in the corn-field the 
night before. She expected him back by sun- 
down — by dark any way. 'Les he 'd gone 
after the bear, and then you could n't tell when 
he would come. 

It appeared that Big Tom was a thriving 
man in the matter of family. More boys ap- 
peared. Only one was married, but four had 
"got their time." As night approached, and 
no Wilson, there was a good deal of lively 
and loud conversation about the stock and the 
chores, in all of which the girl took a leading 
and intelligent part, showing a willingness to 


do her share, bat not to have all the work put 
upon her. It was time to go down the road 
and hunt up the cows ; the mule had disap- 
peared and must be found before dark ; a couple 
of steers had n't turned up since the day before 
yesterday, and in the midst of the gentle con- 
tention as to whose business all this was, there 
was an alarm of cattle in the corn-patch, and 
the girl started off on a run in that direction. 
It was due to the executive ability of this 
small girl, after the cows had been milked and 
the mule chased and the boys properly stirred 
up,, that we had supper. It was of the oil- 
cloth, iron fork, tin spoon, bacon, hot bread and 
honey variety, distinguished, however, from all 
meals we had endured or enjoyed before by 
the introduction of fried eggs (as the breakfast 
next morning was by the presence of chicken), 
and it was served by the active maid with right 
hearty good will and genuine hospitable intent. 
While it was in progress, after nine o'clock. 
Big Tom arrived, and, with a simple greeting, 
sat down and attacked the supper and began to 
tell about the bear. There was not much to 
tell except that he had n't seen the bear, and 
that, judged by his tracks and his sloshing 
around, he must be a big one. But a trap had 
been set for l\im, and he judged it would n't 
be long before we had some bear meat. Big 


Tom Wilson, as he is known all over this part 
of the State, would not attract attention fropi 
hia size. He is six feet and two inches tall, 
very spare and muscular, with sandy hair, 
long gray beard, and honest blue eyes. He 
has a reputation for great strength and endur- 
ance ; a man of native simplicity and mild 
manners. He had been rather expecting us 
from -what Mr. Murchison wrote; he wrote 
(his son had read out the letter) that Big Tom 
was to take good care of us, and anybody that 
Mr. Murchison sent could have the best he 'd 

Big Tom joined us in our room after supper. 
This apartment, with two mighty feather beds, 
was hung about with all manner of stuffy 
ff family clothes, and had in one end a vast 
cavern for a fire. The floor was uneven, and 
the hearthstones billowy. When the fire was 
lighted, the effect of the bright light in the 
cavern and the heavy shadows in the room was 
Kembrandtish. Big Tom sat with us before 
the fire and told bear stories. Talk ? Why, 
it was not the least effort. The stream flowed 
on without a ripple. " Why, the old man," one 
of the sons confided to us next morning, " can 
begin and talk right over Mt. Mitchell and all 
the way back, and never make a break." 
Though Big Tom had waged a lifelong warfare 


with the bears, and taken the hide off at least a 
hundred of them, I could not see that he had 
any vindictive feeling towards the varmint, but 
simply an insatiable love of killing him, and he 
regarded him in that half humorous light in 
which the bear always appears to those who 
study him. As to deer — he could n't tell how 
many of them he had slain. But Big Tom 
was a gentle man, he never killed deer for 
mere sport. With rattlesnakes, now, it was 
different. There was the skin of one hanging 
upon a tree by the route we would take in the 
morning, a buster, he skinned him yesterday. 
There was an entire absence of braggadocio in 
Big Tom's talk, but somehow, as he went on, 
his backwoods figure loomed larger and larger 
in our imagination, and he seemed strangely • 
familiar. At length it came over us where 
we had met him before. It was in Cooper's 
novels. He was the Leather-Stocking exactly. 
And yet he was an original ; for he assured us 
that he had never read the Leather-Stocking 
Tales. What a figure, I was thinking, he must 
have made in the late war I Such a shot, such 
a splendid physique, such iron endurance I I 
almost dreaded to hear his tales of the havoc 
he had wrought on the Union army. Yes, he 
was in the war, he was sixteen months in the 
Confederate army, this Homeric man. In what 
rank ? " Oh, I was a fifer I '^ 


But lianting and war did not by any means 
occupy the whole of Big Tom's life. He was 
also engaged in " lawin'." He had a long time 
feud with a neighbor about a piece of land and 
alleged trespass, and they 'd been *' la win' " for 
years, with no definite result ; but as a topic of 
conversation it was as fully illustrative of fron- 
tier life as the bear-fighting. 

LfOng after we had all gone to bed, we heard 

Big Tom's continuous voice, through the thin 

partition that separated us from the kitchen, 

going on to his little boy about the bear ; every 

circumstance of how he tracked him, and what 

corner of the field he entered, and where he 

went out, and his probable size and age, and 

the prospect of his coming again ; these were 

the details of real every-day life, and worthy to 

be dwelt on by the hour. The boy was never 

tired of pursuing them. And Big Tom was 

just a big boy also in his delight in it all. 

Perhaps it was the fascination of Big Tom, 
perhaps the representation that we were al- 
ready way off the Big Ivy route, and that it 
would in fact save time to go over the moun- 
tain, and we could ride all the way, that made 
the Professor acquiesce, with no protest worth 
noticing, in the preparations that went on, as 
by a natural assumption, for going over Mitch- 
ell. At any rate, there was an early breakfast, 


luncheon was put up, and by half past seven 
we were riding up the Caney — ^ half-cloudy 
day — Big Tom swinging along on foot ahead, 
talking nineteen to the dozen. There was a 
delightful freshness in the air, the dew-laden 
bushes, and the smell of the forest. In half an 
hour we called at the hunting shanty of Mr. 
Murchison, wrote our names on the wall, ac- 
cording to custom,, and regretted that we could 
not stay for a day in that retreat, and try the 
speckled trout. Making our way through the 
low growth and bushes of the valley, we came 
into a fine open forest, watered by a noisy 
brook, and after an hour's easy going reached 
the serious ascent. 

From Wilson's to the peak of Mitchell it is 
seven and a half miles ; we made it in five and 
a half hours. A bridle path was cut years ago, 
but it has been entirely neglected. It is badly 
washed, it is stony, muddy, and great trees have 
fallen across it which wholly block the way 
for horses. At these places long detours were 
necessary, on steep hillsides and through gul- 
lies, over treacherous sink-holes in the rocks, 
through quaggy places, heaps of brush, and 
rotten logs. Those who have ever attempted 
to get horses over such ground will not wonder 
at the slow progress we made. Before we were 
half-way up the ascent, we realized the folly ol 


attempting it on horseback ; bat then to go on 
seemed as easy as to go back. The way aUo 
was exceedingly steep in places, and what with 
roots, and logs, and slippery rocks and stones, 
it was a desperate climb for the horses. 

What a magnificent forest I Oaks, chest- 
nuts, poplars, hemlocks, the cucumber (a spe- 
cies of magnolia, with a pinkish, cucumber-like 
cone), and all sorts of northern and southern 
growths meeting here in splendid array. And 
this gigantic forest, with little diminution in 
size of trees, continued two thirds of the way 
up. We marked, as we went on, the maple, 
the black walnut, the buckeye, the hickory, the 
locust, and the guide pointed out in one sec- 
tion the largest cherry-trees we had ever seen ; 
splendid trunks, each worth a large sum if it 
could be got to market. After the great trees 
were left behind, we entered a garden of white 
birches, and then a plateau of swamp, thick 
with raspberry bushes, and finally the ridges, 
densely crowded with the funereal black bal- 

Half-way up, Big Tom showed us his favor- 
ite, the biggest tree he knew. It was a poplar, 
or tulip. It stands more like a column than a 
tree, rising high into the air, with scarcely a 
perceptible taper, perhaps sixty, more likely 
a hundred, feet before it puts out a limb. Its 


girth six feet from the ground is thii'ty-two 
feet ! I think it might be called Big Tom. It 
stood here, of course, a giant, when Columbus 
sailed from Spain, and perhaps some sentimen- 
tal traveler will attach the name of Columbus 
to it. 

In the. woods there was not much sign of 
animal life, scarcely the note of a bird, but we 
noticed as we rode along in the otherwise pri- 
meval silence a loud and continuous humming 
overhead, almost like the sound of the wind in 
pine tops. It was the humming of bees ! The 
upper branches were alive with these indus- 
trious toilers, and Big Tom was always on the 
alert to discover and mark a bee-gum, which 
he could visit afterwards. Honey hunting is 
one of his occupations. Collecting spruce gum 
is another, and he was continually hacking oflE 
with his hatchet knobs of the translucent se- 
cretion. How rich and fragrant are these for- 
ests I The rhododendron was still in occasional 
bloom, and flowers of brilliant hue gleamed 
here and there. 

The struggle was more severe as we neared 
the summit, and the footing worse for the 
horses. Occasionally it was safest to dis- 
mount and lead them up slippery ascents ; but 
this was also dangerous, for it was difficult to 
keep them from treading on our heels, in their 


frantic flounderings, in the steep, wet, narrow, 
brier-grown path. At one uncommonly pok- 
erish place, where the wet rock sloped into a 
bog, the rider of Jack thought it prudent to dis- 
mount, but big Tom insisted that Jack would 
"make it" all right, only give him his head. 
The rider gave him his head, and the next min- 
ute Jack's four heels were in the air, and he 
came down on his side in a flash. The rider 
fortunately extricated his leg without losing it, 
Jack scrambled out with a broken shoe, and the 
two limped along. It was a wonder that the 
horses' legs were not broken a dozen times. 

As we approached the top, Big Tom pointed 
out the direction, a half mile away, of a small 
pond, a .little mountain tarn, overlooked by a 
ledge of rock, where Professor Mitchell lost his 
life. Big Tom was the guide that found his 
body. That day as we sat on the summit he 
gave in great detail the story, the general out- 
line of which is well known. 

The first effort to measure the height of the 
Black Mountains was made in 1835, by Pro- 
fessor Elisha Mitchell, professor of mathemat- 
ics and chemistry in the University of North 
Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Mitchell was a 
native of Connecticut, born in Washington, 
Litchfield County, in 1793 ; graduated at Yale, 
ordained a Presbyterian minister, and was for 


a time state surveyor ; and became a professor 
at Chapel Hill in 1818. He first ascertained 
and published the fact that the Black Moun- 
tains are the highest land east of the Rocky 
Mountains. In 1844 he visited the locality 
again. Measurements were subsequently made 
by Professor Guyot and by Senator Clingman. 
One of the peakd was named for the senator 
(the one next in height to Mitchell is described 
as Clingman on the state map), and a dispute 
arose as to whether Mitchell had really visited 
and measured the highest peak. Senator Cling- 
man still maintains that he did not, and that 
the peak now known as Mitchell is the one 
that Clingman first described. The estimates 
of altitudes made by the thifee explorers named 
, differed considerably. The height now fixed 
for Mt. Mitchell is 6711 ; that of Mt. Wash, 
ington is 6285. There are twelve peaks in 
this range higher than Mt. Washington, and if 
we add those in the Great Smoky Mountains 
which overtop it, there are some twenty in this 
State higher than the granite giant of New 

In order to verify his statement. Professor 
Mitchell (then in his sixty-fourth year) made 
a third ascent in June, 1857. He was alone, 
and went up from the Swannanoa side. He 
did not return. No anxiety was felt for two 


or three days, as he was a good mountaineer, 
and it was supposed he had crossed the moun- 
tain and made his way out by the Caney River. 
But when several days passed without tidings 
of him, a search party was formed. Big Tom 
Wilson was with it. They explored the moun- 
tain in all directions unsuccessfully. At length 
Big Tom separated himself from his compan- 
ions and took a course in accordance with his 
notion of that which would be pursued by a 
man lost in the clouds or the darkness. He 
soon struck the trail of the wanderer, and, fol- 
lowing it, discovered Mitchell's body lying in 
a pool at the foot of a rocky precipice some 
thirty feet high. It was evident that Mitchell, 
making his way alotog the ridge in darkness or 
fog, had fallen off. It was the ninth (or the 
eleventh) day of his disappearance, but in the 
pure mountain air the body had suffered no 
change. Big Tom brought his companions to 
the place, and on consultation it was decided 
to leave the body undisturbed till Mitchell's 
friends could be present. There was some 
talk of burying him on the mountain, but the 
friends decided otherwise, and the remains, 
with much difficulty, were got down to Ashe- 
ville and there interred. 

Some years afterwards, I believe at the in- 
stance of a society of scientists, it was resolved 


to transport the body to the summit of Mt. 
Mitchell; for the tragic death of the explorer 
had forever settled in the popular mind the 
name of the mountain. The task was not easy. 
A road had to be cut, over which a sledge 
could be hauled, and the hardy mountaineers 
who undertook the removal were three days 
in reaching the summit with their burden. 
The remains were accompanied by a consider- 
able concourse, and the last rites on the top 
were participated in by a hundred or more sci- 
entists and prominent men from different parts 
of the State. Such a strange cortege had 
never before broken the silence of this lonely 
wilderness, nor was ever burial more impres- 
sive than this wild interment above the clouds. 

We had been preceded in our climb all the 
way by a huge bear. That he was huge, a 
lunker, a monstrous old varmint. Big Tom 
knew by the size of his tracks ; that he was 
making the ascent that morning ahead of us, 
Big Tom knew by the freshness of the trail. 
We might come upon him at any moment, he 
might be in the garden, was quite likely to be 
found in the raspberry patch. That we did 
Hot encounter him I am convinced was not 
the fault of Big Tom, but of the bear. 

After a struggle of five hours we emerged 
from the balsams and briers into a lovely open 


meadow, of lush clover, timothy, and blue 
grass. We unsaddled the horses and turned 
them loose to feed in it. The meadow sloped 
up to a belt of balsams and firs, a steep rocky 
knob, and climbing that on foot we stood upon 
the summit of Mitchell at one o'clock. We 
were none too soon, for already the clouds 
were preparing for what appears to be a daily 
storm at this season. 

The summit is a nearly level spot of some 
thirty or forty feet in extent either way, with 
a floor of rock and loose stones. The stunted 
balsams have been cut away so as to give a 
view. The sweep of prospect is vast, and we 
could see the whole horizon except in the 
direction of Roan, whose long bulk was envel- 
oped in cloud. Portions of six States were 
in sight, we were told, but that is merely a 
geographical expression. What we saw, wher- 
ever we looked, was an inextricable tumble of 
mountains, without order or leading line of di- 
rection, — domes, peaks, ridges, endless and 
countless, everywhere, some in shadow, some 
tipped with shafts of sunlight, all wooded and 
green or black, and all in more softened con- 
tours than our Northern hills, but still wild, 
lonesome, terrible. Away in the southwest, 
lifting themselves up in a gleam of the west- 
ern sky, the Great Smoky Mountains loomed 


like a frowning continental fortress, sullen and 
remote. With Clingman and Gibbs and Hold- 
back peaks near at hand and apparently of 
equal height, Mitchell seemed only a part and 
not separate from the mighty congregation of 

In the centre of the stony plot on the sum- 
mit lie the remains of Mitchell. To dig a 
grave in the rock was impracticable, but the 
loose stones were scooped away to the depth 
of a foot or so, the body was deposited, and 
the stones were replaced over it. It was the 
original intention to erect a monument, but 
the enterprise of the projectors of this royal 
entombment failed at that point. The grave 
is surrounded by a low wall of loose stones, to 
which each visitor adds one, and in the course 
of ages the cairn may grow to a good size. 
The explorer lies there without name or head- 
stone to mark his awful resting-place. The 
mountain is bis monument. He is alone with 
its majesty. He is there in the clouds, in the 
tempests, where the lightnings play, and thun- 
ders leap, amid the elemental tumult, in the 
occasional great calm and silence and the pale 
sunlight. It is the most majestic, the most 
lonesome grave on earth. 

As we sat there, awed a little by this pres- 
ence, the clouds were gathering from various 


quarters and drifting towards us. We could 
watch the process of thunderstorms and the 
manufacture of tempests. I have often noticed 
on other high mountains how the clouds, form- 
ing like genii released from the earth, mount 
into the upper air, and in masses of torn frag- 
ments of mist hurry across the sky as to a ren- 
dezvous of witches. This was a different dis- 
play/ These clouds came slowly sailing from 
the distant horizon, like ships on an aerial 
voyage. Some were below us, some on our 
level ; they were all in well-defined, distinct 
masses, molten idlver on deck, below trailing 
rain, and attended on earth by gigantic shad- 
ows that moved with them. This strange fleet 
of battle-ships, drifted by the shifting currents, 
was manoeuvring for an engagement. One 
after another, as they came into range about 
our peak of observation, they opened fire. 
Sharp flashes of lightning darted from one to 
the other ; a jet of flame from one leaped 
across the interval and was buried in the bosom 
of its adversary; and at every discharge the 
boom of great guns echoed through the moun- 
tains. It was something more than a royal 
salute to the tomb of the mortal at our feet, 
for the masses of cloud were rent in the fray, 
at every discharge the rain was precipitated 
in increasing torrents, and soon the vast hulks 


were trailing torn fragments and wreaths of < 
mist, like the shot-away shrouds and sails of 
ships in battle. GraduaUy, from this long 
range practice with single guns and exchange 
of broadsides, they drifted into closer conflict, 
rushed together, and we lost sight of the in- 
dividual combatants in the general tumult of 
this aerial war. 

We had barely twenty minutes for oar ob- 
servations, when it was time to go, and had 
scarcely left the peak when the clouds envel- 
oped it. We hastened down under the threat- 
ening sky to the saddles abd the luncheon. 
Just off from the summit, amid the rocks, is 
a complete arbor, or tunnel, of rhododendrons. 
This cavernous place a Western writer has 
made the scene of a desperate encounter be- 
tween Big Tom and a catamount, or American 
panther, which had been caught in a trap and 
dragged it there, pursued by WUson. It is an 
exceedingly graphic narrative, and is enlivened 
by the statement that Big Tom had the night 
before drunk up all the whiskey of the party 
which had spent the night on the summit. 
Now Big Tom assured us that the whiskey 
part of the story was an invention ; he was 
not (which is true) in the habit of using it ; 
if he ever did take any it might be a drop on 
Mitchell ; in fact, when he inquired if we had 


a flask, he remarked that a taste of it would do 
him good then and there. We regretted the 
lack of it in our baggage. But what inclined 
Big Tom to discredit the Western writer's 
story altogether was the fact that he never in 
his life had had a diflBculty with a catamount, 
and never had seen one in these mountains. 

Our lunch was eaten in haste. Big Tom re- 
fused the chicken he had provided for us, and 
strengthened himself with slices of raw salt 
pork, which he cut from a hunk with his clasp- 
knife. We caught and saddled our horses, who 
were reluctant to* leave the rich feed, enveloped 
ourselves in waterproofs, and got into the stony 
path for the descent just as the torrent came 
down. It did rain. It lightened, the thunder 
crashed, the wind howled and twisted the tree- 
tops. It was as if we were pursued by the 
avenging spirits of the moimtains for our in- 
trusion. Such a tempest on this height had its 
terrors even for our hardy guide. He preferred 
to be lower down while it was going on. The 
crash and reverberation of the thunder did not 
trouble us so much as the swish of the wet 
branches in our faces and the horrible road, 
with its mud, tripping rootsj loose stones, and 
slippery rocks. Progress was slow. The horses 
were in momentary danger of breaking their 
legs. For the first hour there was not much 


descent. In the clouds we were passing over 
Clingman, Gibbs, and Holdback. The rain 
had ceased, but the mist still shut off all view, 
if any had been attainable, and bushes and 
path were deluged. The descent was more un- 
comfortable than the ascent, and we were com- 
pelled a good deal of the way to lead the jaded 
horses down the slippery rocks. 

From the peak to the Widow Patten's, where 
we proposed to pass the night, is twelve miles, 
a distance we rode or scrambled down, every 
step of the road bad, in five and a half hours. 
Half-way down we came out upon a cleared 
place, a farm, with fruit-trees and a house in 
ruins. Here had been a summer hotel, much 
resorted to before the war, but now abandoned. 
Above it we turned aside for the view from 
Elizabeth rock, named from the daughter of 
the proprietor of the hotel, who often sat here, 
said Big Tom, before she went out of this 
world. It is a bold rocky ledge, and the view 
from it, looking south,* is unquestionably the 
finest, the most pleasing and picture-like, we 
found in these mountains. In the foreground 
is the deep gorge of a branch of the Swan- 
nanoa, and opposite is the great wall of the 
Blue Ridge (the Blue Ridge is .the most capri- 
cious and inexplicable system) making off to 
the Blacks. The depth of the gorge, the sweep 


of the sky line, and the reposeful aspect of the 
scene to the sunny south made this view both 
grand and charming. Nature does not always 
put the needed, dash of poetry into her exten- 
sive prospects. 

Leaving this clearing and the now neglected 
spring, where fashion used to slake its thirst, 
we zigzagged down the mountain side through 
a forest of trees growing at every step larger 
and nobler, and at length struck a small 
stream,, the North Fork of the Swannanoa, 
which led us to the first settlement. Just at 
night, — it was nearly seven o'clock, — we 
entered one of the most stately forests I have 
ever seen, and rode for some distance in an 
alley of rhododendrons that arched overhead 
and made a bower. It was like an aisle in a 
temple ; high overhead was the sombre, leafy 
roof, supported by gigantic columns. Few wid- 
ows have such an avenue of approach to their 
domain as the Widow Patten has. 

Cheering as this outcome was from the day's 
struggle and storm, the Professor seemed sunk 
in a profound sadness. The auguries which 
the Friend drew from these signs of civilization 
of a charming inn and a royal supper did not 
lighten the melancholy of his mind. ^* Alas," 
he said, — 


** Why didst thou promise snch a beanteons daj, 
And make me travel forth without my cloak. 
To let base clouds overtake me in my way, 
Hiding thy bravery in their rotten smoke ? 
'T is not enough that through the cloud thou break. 
To dry the rain on my storm-beaten face, 
For no man well of snch a salve can speak 
That heals the wound, and cures not the disgrace : 
Nor can thy shame give physic to my grief : 
Though thou repent, yet I have still the loss." 

"Loss of what?" cried the Friend, as ho 
whipped up his halting steed. 

" Loss of self-respect. I feel humiliated that 
I consented to climb this mountain." 

" Nonsense I You '11 live to thank me for 
it, as the best thing you ever did. It 's over 
and done now, and you 've got it to tell your 

" That 's just the trouble. They '11 ask me 
if I went up Mitchell, and I shall have to say 
I did. My character for consistency is gone. 
Not that I care much what they think, but my 
own self-respect is gone. I never believed I 
would do it. A man can't afford to lower him- 
self in his own esteem, at my time of life." 

The Widow Patten's was only an advanced 
settlement in this narrow valley on the moun- 
tain side, but a little group of buildings, a 
fence, and a gate gave it the air of a place, 
and it had once been better cared for than it is 
now. Few travelers pass that way, and the art 


of entertaining, if it ever existed, is fallen into 
desuetude. We unsaddled at the veranda, and 
sat down to review our adventure, make the 
acquaintance of the family, and hear the last 
story from Big Tom. The mountaineer, though 
wet, was as fresh as a daisy, and fatigue in no 
wise checked the easy, cheerful flow of his talk. 
He was evidently a favorite with his neighbors, 
and not unpleasantly conscious of the extent of 
his reputation. But he encountered here an- 
other social grade. The Widow Patten was 
highly connected. We were not long in dis- 
covering that she was an Alexander. She had 
been a schoolmate of Senator Vance — " Zeb 
Vance " he still was to her — and the senator 
and his wife had stayed at her house. I wish 
I could say that the supper, for which we 
waited till nine o'clock, was as " highly con- 
nected " as the landlady. It was, however, a 
supper that left its memory. We were lodged 
in a detached house, which we had to ourselves, 
where a roaring wood fire made amends for 
other things lacking. It was necessary to close 
the doors to keep out the wandering cows and 
pigs, and I am bound to say that, notwithstand- 
ing the voices of the night, we slept there the 
sleep of peace. 

In the morning a genuine surprise awaited 
us; it seemed impossible, but the breakfast 


was many degrees worse than the supper ; and 
when we paid our bill, large for the region, we 
were consoled by the thought that we paid for 
the high connection as well as for the accom- 
modations. This is a regular place of enter- 
tainment, and one is at liberty to praise it 
without violation of delicacy. 

The broken shoe of Jack required attention, 
and we were all the morning hunting a black- 
smith, as we rode down the valley. Three 
blacksmith's shanties were found, and after 
long waiting to send for the operator it turned 
out in each case that he had no shoes, no nails, 
no iron to make either of. We made a detour 
of three miles to what was represented as a 
regular shop. The owner had secured the ser- 
vice of a colored blacksmith for a special job, 
and was not inclined to accommodate us; he 
had no shoes, no nails. But the colored black- 
smith, who appreciated the plight we were in, 
oEfered to make a shoe, and to crib four nails 
from those he had laid aside for a couple of 
mules ; and after a good deal of delay, we were 
enabled to go on. The incident shows, as well 
as anything, the barrenness and shiftlessness of 
the region. A horseman with whom we rode 
in the morning gave us a very low estimate of 
the trustworthiness of the inhabitants. The 
valley is wild and very pretty all the way down 


to Colonel Long's, — twelve miles, — but the 
wretched-looking people along the way live in 
a wretched manner. 

Just before reaching Colonel Long's we 
forded the stream (here of good size), the 
bridge having tumbled down, and encountered 
a party of picnickers under the trees — signs 
of civilization ; a railway station is not far off. 
Colonel Long's is a typical Southern establish- 
ment : a white house, or rather three houses, 
all of one story, built on to each other as bee- 
hives are set in a row, all porches and galleries. 
No one at home but the cook, a rotund, broad- 
faced woman, with a merry eye, whose very ap- 
pearance suggested good cooking and hospital- 
ity j the Missis and the children had gone up 
to the river fishing ; the Colonel was some- 
where about the place ; always was away when 
he was wanted. Guess he 'd take us in, — 
mighty fine man the Colonel; and she dis- 
patched a child from a cabin in the rear to 
hunt him up. The Colonel was a great friend 
of her folks down to Greenville ; they visited 
here. Law, no, she did n't live here. Was 
just up here spending the summer, for her 
health. God-forsaken lot of people up here, 
poor trash. She would n't stay here a day, 
but the Colonel was a friend of her folks, the 
firstest folks in Greenville. Nobody round here 


she could 'sociate with. She was a Presby- 
terian, the folks round here mostly Baptists 
and Methodists. More style about the Presby- 
terians. Married? No, she hoped not. She 
did n't want to support no husband. Got *nuff 
to do to take care of herself. That her little 
girl ? No ; she 'd only got one child, down to 
Greenville, just the prettiest boy ever was, as 
white as anybody. How did she what ? recon- 
cile this state of things with not being married 
and being a Presbyterian ? Sho ! she liked to 
carry some religion along ; it was mighty handy 
occasionally, mebbe not all the time. Yes, in- 
deed, she enjoyed her religion. 

The Colonel appeared and gave us a most 
cordial welcome. The fat and merry cook 
blustered around and prepared a good dinner, 
memorable for its " light " bread, the first we 
had seen since Cranberry Forge. The Colonel 
is in some sense a public man, having been a 
mail agent, and a Republican, He showed us 
photographs and engravings of Northern pol- 
iticians, and had the air of a man who had 
been in Washington. This was a fine country 
for any kind of fruit, — apples, grapes, pears ; 
it needed a little Northern enterprise to set 
things going. The travelers were indebted to 
the Colonel for a delightful noonday rest, and 
with regret declined his pressing invitation to 
pass the night with him. 


The ride down the Swannanoa to Asheville 
was pleasant, through a cultivated region, over 
a good road. The Swannanoa is, however, a 
turbid stream. In order to obtain the most 
impressive view of Asheville we approached it 
by the way of Beaucatcher Hill, a sharp eleva- 
tion a mile west of the town. I suppose the 
name is a corruption of some descriptive French 
word, but it has long been a favorite resort 
of the frequenters of Asheville, and it may 
be traditional that it is a good place to catch 
beaux. The summit is occupied by a hand- 
some private residence, and from this ridge the' 
view, which has the merit of "bursting" upon 
the traveler as he comes over the hill, is capti- 
vating in its extent and variety. The pretty 
town of Asheville is seen to cover a number of 
elevations gently rising out of the valley, and 
the valley, a rich agricultural region, well wa- 
tered and fruitful, is completely inclosed by 
picturesque hills, some of them rising to the 
dignity of mountains. The most conspicuous of 
these is Mt. Pisgah, eighteen miles distant to 
the southwest, a pyramid of the Balsam range, 
5757 feet high. Mt. Pisgah, from its shape, is 
the most attractive mountain in this region. 

The sunset light was falling upon the splen- 
did panorama and softening it. The windows 
of the town gleamed as if on fire. From the 


steep slope below came the mingled sounds of 
children shouting, cattle driven home, and all 
that hum of life that marks a thickly peopled 
region preparing for the night. It was the 
leisure hour of an August afternoon, and Ashe- 
ville was in all its watering-place gayety, as we 
reined up at the Swannanoa hotel. A band 
was playing on the balcony. We had reached 
ice-water, barbersi waiters, civilization. 


AsHBViLLB, delightful for situation, on small 
hills that rise above the French Broad below 
its confluence with the Swannanoa, is a sort 
of fourteenth cousin to Saratoga. It has no 
springs, but lying 2250 feet aboye the sea and 
in a lovely valley, mountain girt, it has pure 
atmosphere and an equable climate ; and being 
both a summer and winter resort it has ac- 
quired a watering-place air. There are South- 
erners who declare that it is too hot in sum- 
mer, and that the complete circuit of mountains 
shuts out any lively movement of air. But 
the scenery is so charming and noble, the 
drives are so varied, the roads so unusually 
passable for a Southern country, and the facili- 
ties for excursions so good, that Asheville is a 
favorite resort. 

Architecturally the place is not remarkable, 
but its surface is so irregular, there are so many 
acclivities and deep valleys, that improvements 
can never obliterate that it is perforce pictu- 
resque. It is interesting also, if not pleasing, 
in its contrasts — the enterprise of taste and 


money-making struggling with the laissezfaire 
of the South. The negro, I suppose, must be 
regarded as a conservative element ; he has not 
much inclination to change his clothes or his 
cabin, and his swarming presence gives a 
ragged aspect to the new civilization. And 
to say the truth, the new element of Southern 
smartness lacks the trim thrift the North is 
familiar with ; though the visitor who needs 
relaxation is not disposed to quarrel with the 
easy-going terms on which life is taken. 

Asheville, it is needless to say, appeared very 
gay and stimulating to the riders from the wil- 
derness. The Professor, who does not even 
pretend to patronize Nature, had his revenge 
as we strolled about the streets (there is but 
one of much consideration) immensely enter- 
tained by the picturesque contrasts. There 
were more life and amusement here in five 
minutes, he declared, than in five days of what 
people called scenery — the present rage for 
scenery, any way, being only a fashion and a 
modern invention. The Friend suspected from 
this penchant for the city that the Professor 
must have been brought up in the country. 

There was a kind of predetermined and will- 
ful gayety about Asheville, however, that is 
apt to be present in a watering-place, and gave 
to it the melancholy tone that is always pres- 


ent in gay places. We fancied that the lively 
movement in the streets bad an air of unreal- 
ity. A band of musicians on the balcony of 
the Swannanoa were scraping and tooting and 
twanging with a hired air, and on the opposite 
balcony of the Eagle a rival band echoed and 
redoubled the perfunctory joyousness. The 
gayety was contagious : the horses felt it ; 
those that carried light burdens of beauty 
minced and pranced, the pony in the dog-cart 
was inclined to dash, the few passing equipages 
had an air of pleasure ; and the people of color, 
the comely waitress and the slouching corner- 
loafer, responded to the animation of the fes- 
tive strains. In the late afternoon the streets 
were full of people, wagons, carriages, horse- 
men, all with a holiday air, dashed with Afri- 
can color and humor — the irresponsibility of 
the most insouciant and humorous race in the 
world, perhaps more comical than humorous; 
a mixture of recent civilization and rudeness, 
peculiar and amusing ; a happy coming to- 
gether, it seemed, of Southern abandon and 
Northern wealth, though the North was little 
represented at this season. 

As evening came on, the streets, though 
wanting gas, were still more animated ; the 
shops were open, some very good ones, and the 
white and black throng increasing, especially 


the black, for the negro is preeminently a night 
bird. In the hotels dancing was promised, the 
German was annoanced; on the galleries and 
in the corridors were groups of young people, a 
little loud in manner and voice, — the young 
gentleman, with his over-elaborate manner to 
ladies in bowing and hat-lifting, and the bloom- 
ing girls from the lesser Southern cities, with 
the slight provincial note and yet with the 
frank and engaging cordiality which is as 
charming as it is characteristic. I do not know 
what led the Professor to query if the South- 
ern young women were not superior to the 
Southern young men, but he is always asking 
questions nobody can answer. At the Swan- 
nanoa were half a dozen bridal couples, readily 
recognizable by the perfect air they had of hav- 
ing been married a long time. How interest- 
ing such young voyagers are, and how interest- 
ing they are to each other. Columbus never 
discovered such a large world as they have to 
find out and possess each in the other. 

Among the attractions of the evening it was 
diflBcult to choose. There was a . lawn-party 
advertised at Battery Point (where a fine hotel 
has since been built), and we walked up to 
that round knob after dark. It is a hill with 
a grove, which commands a charming view, and 
was fortified during the war. We found it illu- 


minated with Chinese lanterns, and little tables 
set about under the trees, laden with cake 
and ice-cream, offered a chance to the stran- . 
ger to contribute money for the benefit of the 
Presbyterian Church. I am afraid it was not 
a profitable entertainment, for the men seemed 
to have business elsewhere, but the ladies 
about the tables made charming groups in the 
lighted grove. Man is a stupid animal at best, 
or he would not make it so difficult for the 
womenkind to scrape together a little money 
for charitable purposes. But probably the 
women like this method of raising money bet- 
ter than the direct one. 

The evening gayety of the town was well 
distributed. When we descended to the Court- 
House Square, a great crowd had collected, 
black, white, and yellow, about a high plat- 
form, upon which four glaring torches lighted 
up the novel scene, and those who could read 
might decipher this legend on a standard at 
the back of the stage : — 




Happy John, who occupied the platform 
with Mary, a "bright" yellow girl, took the 
comical view of his race, which was greatly en- 


joyed by his audience. His face was blackened 
to the proper color of the stage -darky, and 
he wore a flaming sait of calico, the trousers 
and coat striped longitudinally according to 
Punch's idea of " Uncle Sam," the coat a swal- 
low-tail bound and faced with scarlet, and a 
bell-crowned white hat. This conceit of a col- 
ored Yankee seemed to tickle all colors in the 
audience amazingly. Mary, the " bright " wo- 
man (this is the universal designation of the 
light mulatto), was a pleasing but bold yellow 
girl, who wore a natty cap trimmed with scar- 
let, and had the assured or pert manner of all 
traveling sawdust performers. 

" Oh, yes," exclaimed a bright woman in 
the crowd, " Happy John was sure enough one 
of Wade Hampton's slaves, and he's right 
good looking when he 's not blackened up." 

Happy John sustained the promise of his 
name, by spontaneous gayety and enjoyment 
of the fleeting moment ; he had a glib tongue 
and a ready, rude wit, and talked to his audi- 
ence with a delicious mingling of impudence, 
deference, and patronage, commenting upon 
them generally, administering advice and cor- 
rection in a strain of humor that kept his hear- 
ers in a pleased excitement. He handled the 
banjo and the guitar alternately, and talked 
all the time when he was not singing. Mary 


(how much harder featured and brazen a wo- 
man is in such a position than a man of the 
same calibre I) sang, in an untutored treble, 
songs of sentiment, often risquS^ in solo and 
in company with John, but with a cold, indif- 
ferent air, in contrast to the rollicking enjoy- 
ment of her comrade. The favorite song, which 
the crowd compelled her to repeat, touched 
lightly the uncertainties of love, expressed in 
the falsetto pathetic refrain : — 

" Mary 's gone away wid de coon." 
All this, with the moon, the soft summer night, 
the mixed crowd of darkies and whites, the 
stump eloquence of Happy John, the singing, 
the laughter, the flaring torches, made a wild 
scene. The entertainment was quite free, with 
a " collection '* occasionally during the perform- 

What most impressed us, however, was the 
turning to account by Happy John of the 
*' nigger " side of the black man as a means of 
low comedy, and the enjoyment of it by all the 
people of color. They appeared to appreciate 
as highly as anybody the comic element in 
themselves, and Happy John had emphasized 
it by deepening his natural color and exagger- 
ating the "nigger" peculiarities. I presume 
none of them analyzed the nature of his infec- 
tious gayety, nor thought of the pathos that 


lay 80 close to it, in the fact of his recent slav- 
ery, and the distinction of being one of Wade 
Hampton's niggers, and the melancholy mirth 
of this light-hearted race's burlesque of itself. 

A performance followed which called forth 
the appreciation of the crowd more than the 
wit of Happy John or the faded songs of the 
yellow girl. John took two sweet-cakes and 
broke each in fine pieces into a saucer, and after 
sugaring and eulogizing the dry messes, called 
for two small darky volunteers from the audi- 
ence to come up on the platform and devour 
them. He offered a prize of fifteen cents to the 
one who should first eat the contents of his 
dish, not using his hands, and hold up the sau- 
cer empty in token of his victory. The cake 
was tempting, and the fifteen cents irresisti- 
ble, and a couple of boys in ragged shirts and 
short trousers and a suspender apiece came up 
shamefacedly to enter for the prize. Each 
one grasped his saucer in both hands, and with 
face over the dish awaited the word "go," 
which John gave and started off the contest 
with a banjo accompaniment. To pick up 
with the mouth the dry cake and choke it 
down was not so easy as the boys apprehended, 
but they went into the task with all their 
might, gobbling and swallowing as if they 
loved cake, occasionally rolling an eye to the 



saucer of the contestant to see the relative 
progress, John strumming, ironically encour- 
aging, and the crowd roaring. As the combat 
deepened and the contestants strangled and 
stuffed and sputtered, the crowd went into 
spasms of laughter. The smallest boy won by 
a few seconds, holding up his empty saucer, 
with mouth stuffed, vigorously trying to swal- 
low, like a chicken with his throat clogged 
with dry meal, and utterly unable to speak. 
The impartial John praised the victor in mock 
heroics, but said that the trial was so even 
that he would divide the prize, ten cents to one 
and five to the other — a stroke of justice that 
greatly increased his popularity. And then he 
dismissed the assembly, saying that he had 
promised the mayor to do so early, because he 
did not wish to run an opposition to the polit- 
ical meeting going on in the court-house. 

The scene in the large court-room was less 
animated than that outdoors ; a half dozen tal- 
low dips, hung on, the wall in sconces and stuck 
on the judge's long desk, feebly illuminated the 
mixed crowd of -black and white who sat in, 
and on the backs of, the benches, and cast only 
a fitful light upon the orator, who paced back 
and forth and pounded the rail. It was to 
have been a joint discussion between the two 
presidential electors running in that district, 


but the Republican being absent his place was 
taken by a young man of the town. The Dem- 
ocratic orator took advantage of the absence 
of his opponent to describe the discussion of 
the night 'before, and to give a portrait of his 
adversary. He was represented as a cross be- 
tween a baboon and a jackass, who would be 
a natural curiosity for Bamum. "I intend," 
said the orator, " to put him in a cage and ex- 
hibit him about the deestrict." This political 
hit called forth great applause. All his argu- 
ments were of this pointed character, and they 
appeared to be unanswerable. The orator ap- 
peared to prove that there was n't a respectable 
man in the opposite party who was n't an office- 
holder, nor a white man of any kind in it who 
was not an office-holder. If there were any 
issues or principles in the canvass, he paid his 
audience the compliment of knowing all about 
them, for he never alluded to any. In another 
state of society, such a speech of personalities 
might have led to subsequent shootings, but no 
doubt his adversary would pay him in the same 
coin when next they met, and the exhibition 
seemed to be regarded down here as satisfac- 
tory and enlightened political canvassing for 
votes. The speaker who replied opened his 
address with a noble tribute to woman (as the 
first speaker had ended his), directed to a 


dozen of that sex who sat in the gloom of a 
corner. The young man was moderate in his 
sarcasm, and attempted to speak of national 
issues, but the crowd had small relish for that 
sort of thing. At eleven o'clock, when we got 
away from the unsavory room (more than half 
the candles had gone out), the orator was mak^ 
ing slow headway against the relished black- 
guardism of the evening. The German was 
still " on " at the hotel when we ascended to 
our chamber, satisfied that Asheville was a 
lively town. 

The sojourner at Asheville can amuse him- 
self very well by walking or driving to the 
many picturesque points of view about the 
town ; livery stables abound, and the roads are 
good. The Beaucatcher Hill is always attrac- 
tive ; and Connolly's, a private place a couple 
of miles from town, is ideally situated, being on 
a slight elevation in the valley commanding the 
entire circuit of mountains, for it has the air 
of repose which so seldom is experienced in 
the location of a dwelling in America whence 
an extensive prospect is given. Or if the vis- 
itor is disinclined to exertion, he may lounge in 
the rooms of the hospitable Asheville Club ; or 
he may sit on the sidewalk in front of the 
hotels, and talk with the colonels and judges 
and generals and ex-members of Congress, the 


talk generally drifting to the new commercial 
and industrial life of the South, and only to 
politics as it affects these; and he will be 
pleased, if the conversation takes a reminiscent 
turn, with the lack of bitterness and the tone 
of friendliness. The negro problem is com- 
monly discussed philosophically and without 
heat, but there is always discovered; under- 
neath, the determination that the negro shall 
never again get the legislative upper hand. 
And the gentleman from South Carolina who 
has an upland farm, and is heartily glad slav- 
ery is gone, and wants the negro educated, 
when it comes to ascendency in politics — such 
as the State once experienced — asks you what 
you would do yourself. This is not the place 
to enter upon the politico-social question, but 
the writer may note one impression gathered 
from much friendly and agreeable conversation. 
It is that the Southern whites misapprehend 
and make a scarecrow of "social equality." 
When, during the war, it was a question at 
the North of giving the colored people of the 
Northern States the ballot, the argument 
against it used to be stated in the form of a 
question, " Do you want your daughter to 
marry a negro ? '* Well, the negro has his po- 
litical rights in the North, and there has come 
no change in the social conditions wlj^atever. 


And there is no doubt that the social condi- 
tions would remain exactly as they are at the 
South if the negro enjoyed all the civil rights 
which the Constitution tries to give him. The 
most sensible view of this whole question was 
taken by an intelligent colored man, whose 
brother was formerly a representative in Con- 
gress. " Social equality," he said in effect, " is 
a humbug. We do not expect it, we do not 
want it. It does not exist among the blacks 
themselves. We have our own social degrees, 
and choose our own associates. We simply 
want the ordinary civil rights, under which we 
can live and make our way in peace and amity. 
This is necessary to our self-respect, and if we. 
have not self-respect, it is not to be supposed 
that the race can improve. I '11 tell you what 
I mean. My wife is a modest, intelligent wo- 
man, of good manners, and she is always neat, 
and tastefully dressed. Now, if she goes to 
take the cars, she is not permitted to go into 
a clean car with decent people, but is or- 
dered into one that is repellant, and is forced 
into company that any refined woman would 
shrink from. But along comes a flauntingly- 
dressed woman, of known disreputable charac- 
ter, whom my wife would be disgraced to 
know, and she takes any place that money 
will buy. It is this sort of thing that hurts." 


We took the eastern train one evening to 
Round Nob (Henry's Station), some thirty 
miles, in order to see the wonderful railway 
that descends, a distance of eight miles, from 
the summit of Swannanoa Gap (2657 feet ele- 
vation) to Round Nob hotel (1607 feet). The 
Swannanoa Summit is the dividing line be- 
tween the waters that flow to the Atlantic and 
those that go to the Gulf of Mexico. This fact 
was impressed upon us by the inhabitants, who 
derive a good deal of comfort from it. Such 
divides are always matter of local pride. Un- 
fortunately, perhaps, it was too dark before we 
reached Henry's to enable us to see the road in 
all its loops and parallels as it appears on the 
map, but we gained a better effect. The hotel, 
when we first sighted it, all its windows blazing 
with light, was at the bottom of a well. Be- 
side it — it was suflBciently light to see that — 
a column of water sprang straight into the air 
to the height, as we learned afterwards from 
two official sources, of 225 and 265 feet ; and 
the information was added that it is the highest 
fountain in the world. This stout column, stiff 
as a flagstaff, with its feathery head of mist 
gleaming like silver in the failing light, had 
the most charming effect. We passed out of 
sight of hotel and fountain, but were conscious 
of being whirled on a circular descending 


grade, and very soon they were in sight again. 
Again and again they disappeared and came 
to view, now on one side and now on the other, 
until our train seemed to be bewitched, making 
frantic efforts by dodgings and turnings, now 
through tunnels and now over high pieces of 
trestle, to escape the inevitable attraction that 
was gravitating it down to the hospitable lights 
at the bottom of the well. When we climbed 
back up the road in the morning we had an 
opportunity to see the marvelous engineering, 
but there is little else to see, the view being 
nearly always very limited. 

The hotel at the bottom of the ravine, on 
the side of Round Nob, offers little in the way 
of prospect, but it is a picturesque place, and 
we could understand why it was full of visitors 
when we came to the table. It was probably 
the best -kept house of entertainment in the 
State, and being in the midst of the Black 
Hills it offers good chances for fishing and 
mountain climbing. 

In the morning the fountain, which is of 
course artificial, refused to play, the rain in the 
night having washed in debris which clogged 
the conduit. But it soon freed itself and sent 
up for a long time, like a sulky geyser, mud 
and foul water. When it got freedom and 
tolerable clearness, we noted that the water 


went up in pulsations, which were marked at 
short distances by the water falling off, giving 
the column the appearance of a spine. The 
summit, always beating the air in e£Eorts to rise 
higher, fell over in a veil of mist. 

There are certain excursions that the so- 
journer at Asheville must make. He must ride 
forty-five miles south through Henderson and 
Transylvania to Caesar's Head, on the South 
Carolina border, where the mountain system 
abruptly breaks down into the vast Southern 
plain ; where the observer, standing on the 
edge of the precipice, has behind him and be- 
fore him the greatest contrast that nature can 
offer. He must also take the rail to Waynes- 
ville, and visit the much frequented White Sul- 
phur Springs, among the Balsam Mountains^ 
and penetrate the Great Smoky range by way 
of Quallatown, and make the acquaintance of 
the remnant of Cherokee Indians living on the 
north slope of Cheoah Mountain. The Pro- 
fessor could have made it a matter of personal 
merit that he escaped all these encounters with 
wild and picturesque nature, if his horse had 
not been too disabled for such long jaunts. It 
is only necessary, however, to explain to the 
public that the travelers are not gormandizers 
of scenery, and were willing to leave some por- 
tions of the State to the curiosity of future 


But SO much was said about Hickory Nut 
Gap that a visit to it could not be evaded. 
The Gap is about twenty-four miles southeast 
of Asheville. In the opinion of a well-informed 
colonel, who urged us to make the trip, it is 
the finest piece of scenery in this region. We 
were brought up on the precept, "get the 
best," and it was with high anticipations that 
we set out about eleven o'clock one warm, 
foggy morning. We followed a very good road 
through a broken, pleasant country, gradually 
growing wilder and less cultivated. There was 
heavy rain most of the day on the hills, and 
occasionally a shower swept across our path. 
The conspicuous object toward which we trav- 
eled all the morning was a shapely conical hill 
at the beginning of the Gap. 

At three o'clock we stopped at the Widow 
Sherrill's for dinner. Her house, only about a 
mile from the summit, is most picturesquely 
situated on a rough slope, giving a wide valley 
and mountain view. The house is old, ram- 
bling, many-roomed, with wide galleries on two 
sides. If one wanted a retired retreat for a few 
days, with good air and fair entertainment, this 
could be commended. It is an excellent fruit 
region ; apples especially are sound and of good 
flavor. That may be said of all this part of 
the State. The climate is adapted to apples, 


as the hilly part of New England is. I fancy 
the fruit ripens slowly, as it does in New Eng- 
land, and is not subject to quick decay like 
much of that grown in the West. But the 
grape can also be grown in all this mountain 
region. Nothing but lack of enterprise pre- 
vents any farmer from enjoying abundance of 
fruit. The industry carried on at the moment 
at the Widow Sherrill's was the artificial dry- 
ing of apples for the market. The apples are 
pared, cored, and sliced in spirals, by machin- 
ery, and dried on tin sheets in a patented ma- 
chine. The industry appears to be a profitable 
one hereabouts, and is about the only one that 
calls in the aid of invention. 

While our dinner was preparing we studied 
the well-known pictures of "Jane" and "Eliza," 
the photographs of Confederate boys who had 
never returned from the war, and the relations, 
whom the traveling photographers always like 
to pilloiy in melancholy couples, and some stray 
volumes of the Sunday School Union. Madame 
Sherrill, who carries on the farm since the 
death of her husband, is a woman of strong and 
liberal mind, who informed us that she got 
small comfort in the churches in the neighbor- 
hood, and gave us, in fact, a discouraging ac- 
count of the unvital piety of the region. 

The descent from the summit of the Gap to 


Judge Logan's, nine miles, is rapid, and the 
road is wild and occasionally picturesque, fol- 
lowing the Broad River, a small stream when 
we first overtook it, but roaring, rocky, and 
muddy, owing to frequent rains, and now and 
then tumbling down in rapids. The noisy 
stream made the ride animated, and an occa- 
sional cabin, a poor farmhouse, a mill, a school- 
house, a store with an assemblage of lean horses 
tied to the hitching rails, gave the Professor 
opportunity for remarks upon the value of life 
under such circumstances. 

The valley which we followed down probably 
owes its celebrity to the uncommon phenomena 
of occasional naked rocks and precipices. The 
inclosing mountains are from 3000 to 4000 feet 
high, and generally wooded. I do not think 
that the ravine would be famous in a country 
where exposed ledges and buttressing walls of 
rock are common. It is only by comparison 
with the local scenery that this is remarkable. 
About a mile above Judge Logan's we caught 
sight, through the trees, of the famous water- 
fall. From the top of the high ridge on the 
right, a nearly perpendicular cascade pours 
over the ledge of rocks and is lost in the forest. 
We could see nearly the whole of it, at a great 
height above us, on the opposite side of the 
river, and it would require an hour's stiff climb 


to reach its foot. From where we viewed it, it 
seemed a slender and not very important, but 
certainly a very beautiful cascade, a band of 
silver in the mass of green foliage. The fall 
is said to be 1400 feet. Our colonel insists 
that it is a thousand. It may be, but the valley 
where we stood is at least at an elevation of 
1300 feet ; we could not believe that the ridge 
over which the water pours is much higher than 
3000 feet, and the length of the fall certainly 
did not appear to be a quarter of the height of 
the mountain from our point of observation. But 
we had no desire to belittle this pretty cascade, 
especially when we found that Judge Logan 
would regard a foot abated from the 1400 as a 
personal grievance. Mr. Logan once performed 
the functions of local judge, a Republican ap- 
pointment, and he sits around the premises 
now in the enjoyment of that past dignity and 
of the fact that his wife is postmistress. His 
house of entertainment is at the bottom of the 
valley, a place shut in, warm, damp, and not 
inviting to a long stay, although the region 
boasts a good many natural curiosities. 

It was here that we encountered again the 
political current, out of which we had been for 
a month. The Judge himself was reticent, as 
became a public man, but he had conspicuously 
posted up a monster prospectus, sent out from 


Augasta, of a campaign life of Blaine and Lo- 
gan, in which the Professor read, with shaking 
knees, this sentence: "Sure to be the great- 
est and hottest [campaign and ciyil battle] 
ever known in this world. The thunder of the 
supreme struggle and its reverberations will 
shake the continents for months, and will be 
felt from Pole to Pole." 

For this and other reasons this seemed a 
risky place to be in. There was something 
sinister about the murky atmosphere, and a 
suspicion of mosquitoes besides. Had there 
not been other travelers staying here, we 
should have felt still more uneasy. The house 
faced Bald Mountain, 4000 feet high, a hill 
that had a very bad reputation some years ago, 
and was visited by newspaper reporters. This 
is in fact the famous Shaking Mountain. For 
a long time it had a habit of trembling, as if in 
an earthquake spasm, but with a shivering mo- 
tion very different from that produced by an 
earthquake. The only good that came of it 
was that it frightened all the "moonshiners," 
and caused them to join the church. It is 
not reported what became of the church after- 
wards. It is believed now that the trembling 
was caused by the cracking of a great ledge on 
the mountain, which slowly parted asunder. 
Bald Mountain is the scene of Mrs. Burnett's 


delightful story of Louisiana, and of the play 
of Esmeralda. A rock is pointed out toward 
the summit, which the beholder is asked to see 
resembles a hut, and which is called ^^ Esme- 
ralda^s Cottage." But this attractive maiden 
has departed, and we did not discover any wo- 
man in the region who remotely answers to her 

In the morning we rode a mile and a half 
through the woods and followed up a small 
stream to see the celebrated pools, one of which 
the Judge said was two hundred feet deep and 
another bottomless. These pools, not round, 
but on one side circular excavations, some 
twenty feet across, worn in the rock by peb- 
bles, are very good specimens, and perhaps re- 
markable specimens, of " pot-holes." They are, 
however, regarded here as one of the wonders 
of the world. On the way to them we saw 
beautiful wild trumpet-creepers in blossom, 
festooning the trees. 

The stream that originates in Hickory Nut 
Gap is the westernmost branch of several 
forks of the Broad, which unite to the south- 
east in Rutherford County, flow to Columbia, 
and reach the Atlantic through the channel of 
the Santee. It is not to be confounded with 
the French Broad, which originates among the 
hills of Transylvania, runs northward past 


Asheville, and finds its way to the Tennessee 
through the Warm Springs Gap in the Bald 
Mountains. As the French claimed ownership 
of all the a£9uent8 of the Mississippi, this lat- 
ter was called the French Broad. 

It was a great relief the next morning, on 
our return, to rise out of the lifeless atmos- 
phere of the Gap into the invigorating air at 
the Widow Sherrill's, whose country-seat is 
three hundred feet higher than Asheville. It 
was a day of heavy showers, and apparently of 
leisure to the scattered population ; at every 
store and mill was a congregation of loafers, 
who had hitched their scrawny horses and 
mules to the fences, and had the professional 
air of the idler and gossip the world over. The 
vehicles met on the road were a variety of the 
prairie schooner, long wagons with a top of 
hoops over which is stretched a cotton cloth. 
The wagons are without seats, and the canvas 
is too low to admit of sitting upright, if there 
were. The occupants crawl in at either end, 
sit or lie on the bottom of the wagon, and jolt 
along in shiftless uncomfortableness. 

Riding down the French Broad was one of 
the original objects of our journey. Travelers 
with the same intention may be warned that 
the route on horseback is impracticable. The 
distance to the Warm Springs is thirty-seven 


miles; to Marshall, more than half-way, the 
road is clear, as it runs on the opposite side of 
the river from the railway, and the valley is 
something more than river and rails. But be- 
low Marshall, the valley contracts, and the rails 
are laid a good portion of the way in the old 
stage road. One can walk the track, but to 
ride a horse over its' sleepers and cnl verts and 
occasional bridges, and dodge the trains, is nei- 
ther safe nor agreeable. We sent our horses 
round, — the messenger taking the risk of lead- 
ing them, between trains, over the last six or 
eight miles, — and took the train. 

The railway, after crossing a mile or two of 
meadows, hugs the river all the way. The 
scenery is the reverse of bold. The hills are 
low, monotonous in form, and the stream winds 
through them, with many a pretty turn and 
"reach," with scarcely a ribbon of room to, 
spare on either side. The river is shallow, 
rapid, stony, muddy, full of rocks, with an oc- 
casional little island covered with low bushes. 
The rock seems to be a clay formation, rotten 
and colored. As we approach Warm Springs 
the scenery becomes a little bolder, and we 
emerge into the open space about the Springs 
through a narrower defile, guarded by rocks 
that are really picturesque in color and splin- 
tered decay, one of them being known, of course, 


as the "Lover's Leap," a name common in 
every part of the modem or ancient world 
where there is a settlement near a precipice, 
with always the same legend attached to it. 

There is a little village at Warm Springs, 
but the hotel — since burned and rebuilt — 
(which may be briefly described as a palatial 
shanty) stands by itself close to the river, 
which is here a deep, rapid, turbid stream. A 
bridge once connected it with the road on the 
opposite bank, but it was carried away three or 
four years ago, and its ragged hutments stand 
as a monument of procrastination, while the 
stream is crossed by means of a flat-boat and 
a cable. In front of the hotel, on the slight 
slope to the river, is a meagre grove of locusts. 
The famous spring, close to the stream, is 
marked only by a rough box of wood and an 
iron pipe, and the water, which has a tempera- 
ture of about one hundred degrees, runs to a 
shabby bath-house below, in which is a pool 
for bathing. The bath is very agreeable, the 
tepid water being singularly soft and pleasant. 
It has a slightly sulphurous taste. Its good 
effects are much certified. The grounds, 
which might be very pretty with care, are ill- 
kept and slatternly, strewn with debris, as if 
everything was left to the easy-going nature of 
the servants. The main house is of brick, with 


verandas and galleries all round, and a colon- 
nade of thirteen huge brick and stucco columns^ 
in honor of the thirteen States, a relic of post- 
Revolutionary times, when the house was the 
resort of Southern fashion and romance. These 
columns have stood through one fire, and per- 
haps the recent one, which swept away the rest 
of the structure. The house is extended in a 
long wooden edifice, with galleries and outside 
stairs, the whole front being nearly seven hun- 
dred feet long. In a rear building is a vast, 
barrack-like dining-room, with a noble ball- 
room above, for dancing is the important occu- 
pation of visitors. 

The situation is very pretty, and the estab- 
lishment has a picturesqueness of its own. 
Even the ugly little brick structure near the 
bath-house imposes upon one as Wade Hamp- 
ton's cottage. No doubt we liked the place 
better than if it had been smart, and enjoyed 
the neglige condition, and the easy terms on 
which life is taken there. There was a sense 
of abundance in the sight of fowls tiptoeing 
about the verandas, and to meet a chicken in 
the parlor was a sort of guarantee that we 
should meet him later on in the dining-room. 
There was nothing incongruous in the presence 
of pigs, turkeys, and chickens on the grounds ; 
they went along with the good-natured negro- 


service and the general hospitality ; and we had 
a mental rest in the thought that all the gates 
would have been off the hinges, if there had 
been any gates. The guests were very well 
treated indeed, and were put under no sort 
of restraint by discipline. The long colonnade 
made an admirable promenade and lounging- 
place and point of observation. It was interest- 
ing to watch the groups under the locasts, to 
see the management of the ferry, the mounting 
and dismounting of the riding-parties, and to 
study the colors on the steep hill opposite, half- 
way up which was a neat cottage and flower- 
garden. The type of people was very pleasant- 
ly Southern. Colonels and politicians stand in 
groups and tell stories, which are followed by 
explosions of laughter ; retire occasionally into 
the saloon, and come forth reminded of more 
stories, and all lift their hats elaborately and 
suspend the narratives when a lady goes past. 
A company of soldiers from Richmond had 
pitched its tents near the hotel, and in the 
evening the ball-room was enlivened with uni- 
forms. Among the graceful dancers — and 
every one danced well, and with spirit — was 
pointed out the young widow of a son of 
Andrew Johnson, whose pretty cottage over- 
looks the village. But the Professor, to whom 
this information was communicated, doubted 


whether here it was not a greater distinction 
to be the daughter of the owner of this region 
than to be connected with a President of the 
United States. 

A certain air of romance and tradition hangs 
about the French Broad and the Warm Springs, 
which the visitor must possess himself of in 
order to appreciate either. This was the great 
highway of trade and travel. At certain sea- 
sons there was an almost continuous procession 
of herds of cattle and sheep passing to the 
Eastern markets, and of trains of big wagons 
wending their way to the inviting lands watered 
by the Tennessee. Here came in the summer 
time the Southern planters in coach and four, 
with a great retinue of household servants, and 
kept up for months that unique social life, a 
mixture of courtly ceremony and entire free- 
dom, — the civilization which had the draw- 
ing-room at one end and the negro-quarters at 
the other, — which has passed away. It was a 
continuation into our own restless era of the 
manners and the literature of George the Third, 
with the accompanying humor and happy-go- 
lucky decadence of the negro slaves. On our 
way down we saw on the river bank, under the 
trees, the old hostelry, Alexander's, still in de- 
cay, — an attractive tavern, that was formerly 
one of the notable stopping - places on the 


river. Master, and fine lady, and obsequious, 
larking darky, and lumbering coach, and throng 
of pompous and gay life have all disappeared. 
There was no room in this valley for the old 
institutions and for the iron track. 

" When in the chronicle of wasted time 
I see descriptions of the fairest wights, 
And beauty making beautiful old rhyme 
In praise of ladies dead and lovely knights, . . . 
We, which now behold these present days, 
Have eyes to wonder, bat lack tongues to praise.** 

This perverted use of noble verse was all the 
response the Friend got in his attempt to drop 
into the sentimental vein over the past of the 
French Broad. 

The reader must not think there is no enter- 
prise in this sedative and idle resort The con- 
ceited Yankee has to learn that it is not he 
alone who can be accused of the thrift of craft. 
There is at the Warm Springs a thriving mill 
for crushing and pulverizing barytes, known 
vulgarly as heavy-spar. It is the weight of 
this heaviest of minerals, and not its lovely 
crystals, that gives k value. The rock is 
crushed, washed, sorted out by hand, to remove 
the foreign substances, then ground and sub- 
jected to acids, and at the end of the process 
it is as white and fine as the best bolted flour. 
This heavy adulterator is shipped to the North 


in large quantities, — the manager said he had 
recently an order for a hundred thousand 
dollars' worth of it. What is the use of this 
powder ? Well, it is of use to the dealer who 
sells white lead for paint, to increase the weight 
of the lead, and it is the belief hereabouts that 
it is mixed with powdered sugar. The industry 
is profitable to those engaged in it. 

It was impossible to get much information 
about our route into Tennessee, except that we 
snould go by Paint Rock, and cross Paint 
Mountain. Late one morning — a late start is 
inevitable here — accompanied by a cavalcade, 
we crossed the river by the rope ferry, and 
trotted down the pretty road, elevated above 
the stream and tree -shaded, oflEering always 
charming glimpses of swift water and over- 
hanging foliage (the railway obligingly taking 
the other side of the river), to Paint Rock, — 
six miles. This Paint Rock is a naked preci- 
pice by the roadside, perhaps sixty feet high, 
which has a large local reputation. It is said 
that its face shows painting done by the In- 
dians, and hieroglyphics which nobody can 
read. On this bold, crumbling cliff, innumer- 
able visitors have written their names. We 
stared at it a good while to discover the paint 
and hieroglyphics, but could see nothing except 
iron stains. Round the corner is a farmhouse 


and place of call for visitors, a neat cottage, 
with a display of shells and minerals and 
flower-pots ; and here we turned north, crossed 
the little stream called Paint River, the only 
clear water we had seen in a month, passed 
into the State of Tennessee, and by a gentle 
ascent climbed Paint Mountain. The open 
forest road, with the murmur of the stream 
below, was delightfully exhilarating, and as we 
rose the prospect opened, — the lovely valley 
below. Bald Mountains behind us, and the Butt 
Mountains rising as we came over the ridge. 

Nobody on the way, none of the frowzy 
women or unintelligent men, knew anything of 
the route, or could give us any information of 
the country beyond. But as we descended in 
Tennessee the country and the farms decidedly 
improved, — apple-trees and a grapevine now 
and then. 

A ride of eight miles brought us to Waddle's, 
hungry and disposed to receive hospitality. 
We passed by an old farm building to a new 
two-storied, gayly painted house on a hill. We 
were deceived by appearances. The new house, 
with a new couple in it, had nothing to offer 
us, except some buttermilk. Why should any- 
body be obliged to feed roving strangers ? As 
to our horses, the young woman vdth a baby 
in her arms declared, — 


'' We Ve got nothing for stock but rough- 
ness; perhaps you can get something at the 
other house." 

^^ Roughness," we found out at the other 
house, meant hay in this region. We procured 
for the horses a light meal of green oats, and 
for our own dinner we drank at the brook and 
the Professor produced a few sonnets. On this 
sustaining repast we fared on nearly twelve 
miles further, through a rolling, good farming 
country, ofEering little for comment, in search 
of a night's lodging with one of the brothers 
Snap. But one brother declined our company 
on the plea that his wife was sick, and the 
other because his wife lived in Greenville, and 
we found ourselves as dusk came on without 
shelter in a tavernless land. Between the two 
refusals we enjoyed the most picturesque bit 
of scenery of the day, at the crossing of Camp 
Creek, a swift little stream, that swirled round 
under the ledge of bold rocks before the ford. 
This we learned was a favorite camp-meeting 
ground. Mary was calling the cattle home at 
the farm of the second Snap. It was a very 
peaceful scene of rural life, and we were in- 
clined to tarry, but Mary, instead of calling 
us home with the cattle, advised us to ride on 
to Alexander's before it got dark. 

It is proper to say that at Alexander's we 


began to see what this pleasant and fruitful 
country might be, and will be, with thrift and 
intelligent farming. Mr. Alexander is a well- 
to-do farmer, with plenty of cattle and good 
bams (always an evidence of prosperity), who 
owes his success to industry and an open mind 
to new ideas. He was a Unionist during the 
war, and is a Democrat now, though his coun- 
ty (Greene) has been Republican. We had 
been riding all the afternoon through good 
land, and encountering a better class of farm- 
ers. Peach-trees abounded (though this was 
an off year for fruit), and apples and grapes 
thrive. It is a land of honey and of milk. 
The persimmon flourishes ; and, sign of abun- 
dance generally, we believe, great flocks of tur- 
key-buzzards — majestic floaters in the high 
air — hovered about. This country was rav- 
aged during the war by Unionists and Confed- 
erates alternately, the impartial patriots as 
they passed scooping in corn, bacon, and good 
horses, leaving the farmers little to live on. 
Mr. Alexander's farm cost him forty dollars 
an acre, and yields good crops of wheat and 
maize. This was the first house on our jour- 
ney where at breakfast we had grace before 
meat, though there had been many tables that 
needed it more. From the door the noble 
range of the Big Bald is in sight and not dis- 


tant ; and our host said he had a shanty on it, 
to which he was accustomed to go with his 
family for a month or six weeks in the summer 
and enjoy a real primitive woods life. 

Refreshed by this little touch of civilization, 
and with horses well fed, we rode on next 
morning towards Jonesboro, over a rolling, 
rather unpicturesque country, but ennobled by 
the Big Bald and Butt ranges, which we had 
on our right all day. At noon we crossed the 
Nollechucky River at a ford where the water 
was up to the saddle girth, broad, rapid, 
muddy, and with a treacherous stony bottom, 
and came to the little hamlet of Boylesville, 
with a flour-mill, and a hospitable old-fashioned 
house, where we found shelter from the heat 
of the hot day, and where the daughters of the 
house, especially one pretty girl in a short skirt 
and jaunty cap, contradicted the currently re- 
ceived notion that this world is a weary pil- 
grimage. The big parlor, with its photographs 
and stereoscope, and bits of shell and mineral, 
a piano and a melodeon, and a coveted old 
sideboard of mahogany, recalled rural New 
England. Perhaps these refinements are due 
to the Washington College (a school for both 
sexes), which is near. We noted at the tables 
in this region a singular use of the word fruit. 
When we were asked, "Will you have some 


of the fruit?" and said Yes, we always got 

Ten miles more in the late afternoon brought 
us to Jonesboro, the oldest town in the State, 
a pretty place, with a flavor of antiquity, set 
picturesquely on hills, with the great moun- 
tains in sight. People from further South find 
this an agreeable summering place, and a fair 
hotel, with odd galleries in front and rear, did 
not want company. The Warren Institute for 
negroes has been flourishing here ever since the 

A ride of twenty miles next day carried us 
to Union. Before noon we forded the We- 
tauga, a stream not so large as the NoUe- 
chucky, and were entertained at the big brick 
house of Mr. Devault, a prosperous and hospi- 
table farmer. This is a rich country. We had 
met in the morning wagon-loads of water-mel- 
ons and musk-melons, on the way to Jonesboro, 
and Mr. Devault set abundance of these re- 
freshing fruits before us as we lounged on the 
porch before dinner. 

It was here that we made the acquaintance 
of a colored woman, a withered, bent old pen- 
sioner of the house, whose industry (she ex- 
celled any modern patent apple -parer) was 
unabated, although she was by her own confes- 
sion (a woman, we believe, never owns her age 


till she has passed this point) and the testi- 
mony of others a hundred years old. But age 
had not impaired the brightness of her eyes, 
nor the limbemess of her tongue, nor her 
shrewd good sense. She talked freely about 
the want of decency and morality in the young 
colored folks of the present day. It was n't so 
when she was a girl. Long, long time ago, she 
and her husband had been sold at sheriff's 
sale and separated, and she never had another 
husband. Not that she blamed her master so 
much — he couldn't help it, he got in debt. 
And she expounded her philosophy about the 
rich and the danger they are in. The great 
trouble is that when a person is rich he can 
borrow money so easy, and he keeps drawin' it 
out of the bank and pilin' up the debt, like 
^ rails on top of one another, till it needs a lad- 
der to get on to the pile, and then it all comes 
down in a heap, and the man has to begin on 
the bottom rail again. If she 'd to live her life 
over again, she 'd lay up money ; never cared 
much about it till now. The thrifty, shrewd 
old woman still walked about a good deal, and 
kept her eye on the neighborhood. Going out 
that morning she had seen some fence up the 
road that needed mending, and she told Mr. 
Devault that she did n't like such shiftlessness ; 
she did n't know as white folks was much bet- 


ter than colored folks. Slavery ? Yes, slavery- 
was .pretty bad — she had seen five hundred 
niggers in handcuffs, all tc^ether in a field, 
sold to be sent South. 

About six miles from here is a beech grove 
of historical interest, worth a visit if we could 
have spared the time. In it is the large beech 
(six and a half feet around, six feet from the 
ground) on which Daniel Boone shot a bear, 
when he was a rover in this region. He him- 
self cut an inscription on the tree recording his 
prowess, and it is still distinctly legible : — 


This tree is a place of pilgrimage, and names 
of people from all parts of the country are cut 
on it, until there is scarcely room for any more 
records of such devotion. The grove is ancient 
looking, the trees are gnarled and moss-grown. 
Hundreds of people go there, and the trees are 
carved all over with their immortal names. 

A pleasant ride over a rich rolling country, 
with an occasional strip of forest, brought us to 
UniQn in the evening, with no other adventure 
than the meeting of a steam threshing-machine 
in the road, with steam up, clattering along. 
The devil himself could not invent any ma- 
chine calculated to act on the nerves of a horse 
like this. Jack took one look and then dashed 


into the woods, scraping off his rider's hat, but 
did not succeed in getting rid of his burden or 
knocking down any trees. 

Union, on the railway, is the forlornest of 
little villages, with some three hundred inhab- 
itants and a forlorn hotel, kept by an ex-stage- 
driver. The village, which lies on the Holstein, 
has no drinking - water in it nor enterprise 
enough to bring it in ; not a well nor a spring 
in its limits ; and for drinking-water everybody 
crosses the river to a spring on the other side. 
A considerable part of the labor of the town is 
fetching water over the bridge. On a hill over- 
looking the village is a big, pretentious brick 
house, with a tower, the furniture of which is 
an object of wonder to those who have seen it. 
It belonged to the late Mrs. Stover, daughter 
of Andrew Johnson. The whole family of the 
ex-President have departed this world, but his 
memory is still green in this region, where he 
was almost worshiped — so the people say in 
speaking of him. 

Forlorn as the hotel was at Union, the land- 
lord's daughters were beginning to draw the 
lines in rural refinement. One of them had 
been at school in Abingdon, Another, a ma- 
ture young lady of fifteen, who waited on the 
table, in the leisure after supper, asked the 
Friend for a light for her cigarette, which she 
had deftly rolled. 


•' Why do you smoke ? " 

" So as I sha'n't get into the habit of dip- 
ping. Do you think dipping is nice ? " 

The traveler was compelled to say that he 
did not, though he had seen a good deal of it 
wherever he had been. 

" All the girls dips round here. But me and 
my sisters rather smoke than get in a habit 
of dipping." 

To the observation that Union seemed to be 
a dull place : — 

" Well, there 's gay times here in the winter 

— dancing. Like to dance! Well, I should 
say. Last winter I went over to Blountsville 
to a dance in the court-house ; there was a trial 
between Union and Blountsville for the best 
dancing. You bet I brought back the cake and 
the blue ribbon." 

The country was becoming too sophisticated, 
and the travelers hastened to the end of their 
journey. The next morning Bristol, at first 
over a hilly country with magnificent oak-trees, 

— happily not girdled as these stately monarchs 
were often seen along the roads in North Caro- 
lina, — and then up Beaver Creek, a turbid 
stream, turning some mills. When a closed 
woolen factory was pointed out to the Professor 
(who was still traveling for Reform) as the re- 
sult of the agitation in Congress, he said Yes, 


the effect of agitation was evident in all the 
decayed dams and ancient abandoned mills we 
had seen in the past month. 

Bristol is mainly one long street, with some 
good stores, but generally shabby, and on this 
hot morning sleepy. One side of the street is in 
Tennessee, the other in Virginia. How handy 
for fighting this would have been in the war, if 
Tennessee had gone out and Virginia stayed in. 
At the hotel — may a kind Providence wake it 
up to its responsibilities — we had the pleasure 
of reading one of those facetious hand -bills 
which the great railway companies of the West 
scatter about, the serious humor of which is so 
pleasing to our English friends. This one was 
issued by the accredited agents of the Ohio and 
Mississippi Railway, and dated April 1, 1984. 
One sentence will suflB.ce : — 

" Allow us to thank our old traveling friends 
for the many favors in our line, and if you are 
going on your bridal trip, or to see your girl 
out West, drop in at the general oflSice of the 
Ohio and Mississippi Railway and we will fix 
you up in Queen Anne style. Passengers for 
Dakota, Montana, or the Northwest will have 
an overcoat and sealskin cap thrown in with all 
tickets sold on or after the above date." 

The great republic cannot yet take itself 
seriously. Let us hope the humors of it will 


last anotlier generation. Meditating on this, 
we hailed at sundown the spires of Abingdon, 
and regretted the end of a journey that seems 
to have been undertaken for no purpose. 




Natubally one shrinks a little from writ- 
ing about Mexico after passing less than two 
months in its vast territory. There is so much 
to be said, and there are so many qualifications 
to be made to whatever is said. The longer 
one remains there the more he will hesitate 
to put down even his impressions, and I fancy 
that in time one would abandon altogether any 
attempt to write out his conflicting ideas: so 
much depends upon the temper, the tempera- 
ment, the tastes, the endurance, of the traveler. 
One person returns from a trip through Mex- 
ico in a glow of enthusiasm, interested in the 
people, enchanted with the climate, full of won- 
der over the scenery ; another, weary with the 
long journeying, disgusted with the people, half 
starved by the unaccustomed diet, admits that 
the scenery is wonderful, though it is monoto- 
nous, and that the climate — except that the 
coast is too warm and the highland air is too 
rare — is delicious, and is heartily glad that the 
expedition has been made and is over. 


To me Mexico is one of the most interesting 
countries I have seen, and so novel on e very- 
hand that I enjoyed in a way that which is 
disagreeable almost as much as that which is 
pleasing. It is novel, and yet, now and again, 
strangely familiar ; for in its life it is a patch- 
work sort of country, with a degraded civiliza- 
tion, constantly suggesting, in a second-hand 
way, a half-dozen other countries and peoples. 
I spent most of my time outside the city of 
Mexico — for it is not there that the life, ex- 
cept a certain sort of artificial society life, is 
more advantageously to be studied — and in 
these papers I purpose to touch upon general 
life and manners and aspects of nature that 
came under my observation, with the intention 
of replying to some of the questions that a re- 
turning traveler is commonly asked about the 

Everything is on a vast scale. High ranges 
of bare mountains running parallel for hundreds 
of miles, with plains between, often stony and 
inhospitable, often good grazing land, verdure- 
clad under the summer rains, but brown and 
barren, except when irrigated, through the long 
rainless season from October to June — this is 
the general character of the highlands. Vast- 
ness is not picturesqueness, but those who pre- * 
^ The journey was made in Febraarj and March, 1887. 


fer the Sierra sort of scenery which character- 
izes our own Great West to that of the New 
England and the Blue Ridge like it. Descend- 
ing from the mountains about the city of Mex- 
ico in any direction to the coast by a succes- 
sion of terraces, one has scenery of a different 
sort, but still grandiose, and any warmth of 
temperature desired. 

Entering the country by the gate of El Paso 
— a gate of ash -heaps for hills, and sand, 
through which the Rio Grande sprawls over 
quicksands — one has still twelve hundred 
miles to traverse — two days and a half by 
rail — before reaching the city of Mexico. 
The road runs mainly through valleys with 
low hills on either side ; but it is by no means 
a highland level ; the road is constantly as- 
cending and descending. Starting from a 
height of 3700 feet above the sea at El Paso, 
and never descending below this level, some 
high mountains are climbed on the way. The 
course is generally upward until the mountain 
silver-mining city of Zacatecas comes in view, 
about 8000 feet above the sea. Prom here 
there is a sharp descent, but a high level is 
generally maintained till Marguez is reached, 
when the lost height is recovered in something 
over 8000 feet, and a descent made into the 
Tula Valley, the scenery and vegetation be- 


coming more interesting. Then the great 
Spanish drainage cut (begun in the seven- 
teenth century), six or seven miles long, the 
Tajo de Nochistongo, is entered, and the trav- 
eler emerges upon the valley of the city of 
Mexico, about 7400 feet (some calculations 
make it two hundred feet less) above the sea. 
Sandy El Paso seldom has any rain, but its 
air, unaffected by the moisture of vegetation, 
is simply delicious, like that of the barren 
plains of western Texas. With five railways 
centring there, it is growing rapidly, and is full 
of speculators, traders, gamblers, and the usual 
accompaniments of frontier civilization. We 
changed money here, getting for $200 United 
States 249 Mexican silver dollars, as big and 
as valuable as our silver dollars; but the ad- 
vantage of the change was not immediately 
apparent, for we paid at the stations one dollar 
for the same sort of meals we had paid sev- 
enty-five cents for in Texas. The Mexican 
Central road is smooth and good, except that 
the sand ballasting makes it occasionally dusty ; 
but nothing whatever is to be said in favor of 
the fare at its stations. The first decently 
served meal found was that at Aguas Calien- 
tes, and that was Mexican. The line does not 
run through a single town — all lie a mile or 
a mile and a half to one side, and are reached 


by horae-cars. Whether the people objected to 
having the railway near, or whether the com- 
pany building it thought it more profitable to 
run street-cars to the towns, I do not* know. 
Both reasons are given for the location. 

The way at first was over a plain, rising, 
with brown serrated hills on both sides. For 
the first twenty-four hours the country was 
much in appearance like western Texas — dry 
and sterile at this season. Chihuahua, as we 
saw it, a mile and a half off, is a brown city 
with conspicuous cathedral towers. As we got 
further into the country the people idling at 
the railway stations began to be very pictu- 
resque and poverty-stricken. The hats made 
the most distinct impression. Everybody 
seems to invest his fortune in his hat. They 
are in great variety, but all are high-crowned, 
of felt or straw, with a brim six inches broad, 
sometimes the crown black and the brim white, 
always ornamented with silver or white braid, 
or a broad strap and buckle. The poor class 
is all in rags, cotton pantaloons, and a scrape 
generally in strings, and irretrievably grimy. 
The towns on the road — brown clusters of 
sun-baked mud — the little adobe houses, the 
fiat plain and pyramidal hills, reminded us of 
Egypt, as did the squalid people also. Nor 
was there wanting the peculiar minor cry or 


singsong of boys keeping the cattle on the 
plains. Now and then was seen a woman 
with fine dark eyes and comely copper-colored 
featurell. Handsome boys in rags were com- 
mon, and pretty babies. At the stations was 
always a crowd of spectators. The favorite 
occupation of the men, clad in big hat, cotton 
trousers, and ragged colored scrape drawn 
about the shoulders, was to stand perfectly 
motionless, holding up some building. As we 
went south more life and more cattle appeared 
— herds on herds, indeed, scattered over the 
brown plains — and sheep also. Donkeys 
abounded. The rider of a donkey sits so far 
in the rear that a perpendicular line from his 
head would hit the ground, so that the don- 
key's hind-legs seem to belong to the boy rid- 
ing. The country improved in appearance 
when we were between five hundred and six 
hundred miles on our journey — still brown 
and dry, but evidently fruitful. Trees were 
wanting, but mesquit appeared, and small spe- 
cies of cacti. There was a good deal of color 
in the soil, and some lovely effects in the plains 
and the mountains. We were beginning to get 
one of the charms of Mexico, namely, atmos- 
pheric color, which makes a garment for the 
fairest landscape — a drapery which the artists 
say is usually wanting in our Northern regions. 


At a little station, very early in the morn- 
ing, before we reached Calera, was a sort of 
gypsy, Oriental encampment — tents, wagons, 
donkeys, vagabond men, women, and a band 
composed of harp, fiddle, and bass-viol, which 
hailed the rising sun with festive music. 
These hospitable and hilarious people offered 
refreshments — coffee and something stronger 
— to the train passengers, and the women so- 
licited them to go to a house near by and ex- 
temporize a dance. I supposed at first that 
this was a communal emigration from one part 
of the country to another. But no. These 
people lived along the base of the mountains, 
and had come together for a frolic of a few 
days, with cock-fighting and plenty of whiskey 
or its equivalent, aguardiente. 

Zacatecas, with its 40,000 to 50,000 inhabi- 
tants, is an imposing city as seen from the rail 
which skirts it, and indeed looks down on it. 
The elevation is over 8000 feet, and the town 
lies in a sort of cup in the mountains, a com- 
pact lot of small houses, yellow, red, blue, 
green, and a great cathedral in the midst. On 
the hillsides all about and in the valley below 
it are the silver mines and works. The whole 
effect of color in the thin air is silver-gray. 
The wind is keen, and sweeps clouds of dust 
around the statipn, where there is a lively 


crowd of fruit hucksters and spectators, in 
great variety of color and costume. At a sta- 
tion beyond, a Mexican lady of quality comes 
on board. She is of the Spanish type, over- 
dressed in a flowered silk and black mantilla, 
rich dark complexion, through which the red 
blood shows, large black eyes, heavy cheeks, 
and coarse mouth. With her are an elderly 
woman in black, and several young men, gen- 
tlemen, in big hats, fantastically braided trou- 
sers, and semi-brigandish air. 

Aguas Calientes, where we have at the sta- 
tion a civilized dinner, is in the distance a 
well-shaded, pretty city. It is the fashionable 
Mexican hot -springs resort, and the stream 
from the springs, in which there is promiscu- 
ous bathing for a mile, is said to give one a fair 
idea of the Mexican disregard for convention- 
alities. At the table d'hote are several typ- 
ical people : a light-haired Mexican, with high, 
narrow, empty forehead, very grave ; the loud, 
swash-buckler major-domo of a neighboring ha- 
cienda, in an enormous white hat, fancy coat, 
and braided trousers, and a long pistol con- 
spicuous in his belt; a big fat young gentle- 
man with intensely black, small eyes, broad, 
heavy face, thin mustache, like a youth over- 
ripe, small forehead, and a big hat, talking to 
a little withered, parchment-faced man, atten- 
tive and obsequious. 


Novel pictures constantly present themselves. 
The lady of quality descends at a way-station, 
where she is met by a handsome open carriage, 
with servants in livery, and a modern Spanish- 
looking gentleman, handsome, and not too ex- 
travagantly dressed in the Spanish mode. Her 
hacienda is not far off, at the foot of the hills. 
The lady is very well known in the city, and 
has a history. Mexico abounds in " histories." 
At all the stations are crowds of boys, men, 
and women, who offer for sale oranges, sweets, 
Mexican "messes," and queer-looking fruits 
which are out of season, and do not taste good, 
and they make a tremendous clamor, like Ital- 
ian venders. The region beyond Silao boasts 
that it has ripe strawberries every month in 
the year. At Irapuato we bought a little 
basket of this fruit for fifty cents, not ripe, but 
still sweet. The basket was solidly filled with 
cabbage leaves ; and disposed on top neatly, so 
as to hide the leaves, were a couple of dozen 
berries. These simple people have nothing to 
learn of Northern market -men. We have 
struck a very old civilization. 

Tuesday morning at seven, having left El 
Paso Saturday night at seven, we passed 
through the famous deep cut or canal of No- 
chistongo. It is not picturesque, the walls 
being of hard earth, .with little rock visible. 


This cut was first made by the Indians as a 
drain for the valley. People have wondered 
what they did with the exoavated earth ; ac- 
quaintance with the Indians suggests the .ex- 
planation that they kept most of it on their 
persons. They are no longer attached to the 
soil as peons, but the soil is attached to them, 
and most of them are dirty enough to be called 
real estate. We are at last in the valley of 
the city of Mexico. This long route, through 
valleys and over mountains, somewhat dusty, 
always in the sunshine, with a temperate heat 
and good air, is monotonous in all its variety, 
but exceedingly interesting in the retrospect, 
considering that it is a railway journey, for 
we have seen many sorts of people and many 
strange costumes. 

The valley of the city of Mexico is circular 
in form, with an average breadth of thirty to 
thirty-five miles, and flat, save for some little 
hillocks. It has two shallow lakes, Chalco and 
Tezcoco, the one fresh and the other brackish. 
Chalco is connected directly with the city by 
a canal twelve miles long. The area is more 
generally marshy than otherwise, and cut by 
canals and irrigating ditches. To the north of 
the city some four miles is the hill and town 
of Guadalupe, with its sacred mineral spring ; 
to the S0lith three miles, at the end of the 


Paseo drive, is the hill of Chapultepec, This 
^asin is completely surrounded by mountains 
of varying height. To the west they rise 
10,000 feet (above the sea), and east, south- 
erly, are the twin snow peaks Iztaccihuatl and 
Popocatepetl, the latter 17,500 feet high, and 
the former, the White Woman, a little lower. 
All the streams from the hills run into this 
basin, and there is absolutely no outlet for the 
water except the cut of Nochistongo, which 
affects only a small portion of the valley. 
Exit from the city to the country is on slightly 
raised causeways. Thus Mexico, which, from 
its elevation and superb, equable climate, 
should be the healthiest city in the world, is, 
wanting drainage, subject to various malarial 
and typhoid fevers and to pneumonia. One 
hesitates to speak of the climate, for that is so 
much a matter of individual adaptation. To 
most people, I think, the climate of the valley 
is delicious. The rare air, the necessity of 
breathing fast to get oxygen enough, quickens 
the pulse, and many new-comers have head- 
ache and a pain in the back of the neck ; but 
these usually pass off in a few days. It may 
not suit those who have tendency to heart-dis- 
ease, and much better places can be found in 
the republic for those with irritated throats 
and delicate lungs. The average temperature, 


summer and winter, is about 70°, running from 
60° to 80° and over. The winter is rainless 
and dry from, say, October to the last of 
May ; the trees and hedges are dusty, and the 
landscape brown ; in summer the heat is no 
greater, but the air is cleared of dust and haze 
by daily showers, everything is green, blooming, 
and sparkling, and the atmosphere is said to 
be delicious. April and May are the warmest 
months of the year. With the summer rains, 
which turn to snow on the highest mountains, 
of course the two volcanoes have much more 
snow than in winter. Occasionally in Janu- 
ary the thermometer falls below the average, 
the snow lies for some hours on the encircling 
foothills, and the city experiences some chilly, 
uncomfortable days, for which it is wholly un- 
prepared. The mass of the people and the sol- 
diers, who wear cotton clothes the year round, 
evidently do not expect this sort of thing. For 
a Northerner I should say the dress for summer 
and winter should be his ordinary woolen ap- 
parel for spring and autumn, with a light over- 
coat for driving. 

No railways run into the city; the stations 
of all the roads are outside in the suburbs ; but 
carriages are plenty and not dear, and street 
railways traverse the city in all directions, and 
run to the outlying villages. These cars always 


go in pairs, a first-class closely followed by a 
second-class. For funerals, an open platform • 
car performs the service of a hearse. It used 
to be necessary, when the country was unsafe, 
for cars going into the villages to make up a 
train of at least three, with a guard of soldiers. 
The city, with some 800,000 inhabitants, 
spreads over a large area, with more houses of 
two than of three stories. The streets are of 
good width, laid at right angles, and often 
there is the agreeable perspective of a mountain 
at the end ; the house architecture is generally 
simple, square, with square windows, balconies, 
awnings, and with considerable color in the 
houses, reddish, pink, cream, colors usually 
toned down, but which give life and even re- 
finement to the streets. For variety there are 
some solid, stately, half-Spanish buildings, now 
and then one very handsome with tiles, some 
fantastically painted, and the picture-decorated 
pulque shops. In churches and public build- 
ings the city does not lack imposing architec- 
ture, yet the general effect is that of sameness. 
There are many fine shops and pleasant ar- 
cades, especially in San Francisco Street, and 
about the Plaza ; and of course there is more 
or less concentration of such in the centre of 
the city ; but as a rule the city differs from our 
cities in not having a business quarter and a 


residence quarter; like Paris, shops are scat- 
tered all over the city, and the people live over 
them. The monotony of the right - angled 
streets is broken by some pictaresque market 
squares, by the large Cathedral Plaza, by the 
Alameda, a long narrow plot of ground with 
trees and semi-tropical vegetation, and the very 
broad and well-planted Paseo. This is lined 
with gardens and a few country houses, has 
some statues, and, running out three miles to 
Chapultepec, is the favorite driving and riding 
and display ground of all the world late in the 
afternoon. Of course it is understood that 
many of the edifices, hotels, public buildings 
and private, are built about courts, and that 
there are many pretty patios and gardens. In 
the shop windows is a good deal of cheap 
jewelry and a display of meretricious taste; 
but there are more book and art stores, more 
pictures and engravings, than can be found in 
any Southern city of the United States, and the 
art and fancy windows are usually thronged 
with spectators. The aspect of street life as to 
dress, in most parts of the town, is European, 
but it is motley as to color, most of the Mex- 
icans being hybrids of all shades. Now and 
then appears an Indian woman, short and squat, 
with high cheek-bones, clad in a single piece 
of cotton cloth ingeniously wrapped about her. 


The water-carriers, half naked, "with the jar on 
the back supported by a strap across the fore- 
head, remind one of the Orient ; there are not 
many beggars, but the sidewalks are beset with 
women and children selling lottery tickets for 
daily drawings — the curse of the city ; all the 
women, except in the upper class, wear invari- 
ably the graceful nbosa — a long shawl woven 
of cotton, with a deep fringe, generally light 
blue, worn over the head or draped about the 
shoulders. The serape, or blanket, the national 
garb for the men, appears less frequently in 
the city than in the country. Men are water- 
ing the streets with pails and garden watering, 

There are plenty of boarding-houses, built 
about courts, with interior galleries, most of 
the rooms opening only on the court, the fare 
being Mexican, and not bad when one is ac- 
customed to it ; several of the hotels are com- 
fortable lodging-houses — pleasant if one gets 
a room with a window outside and a door upon 
the sunny court — and they have restaurants 
attached. But all these, and all those in the 
city, are decidedly of the third class, and not 
tempting to people with delicate appetites. 
There is no excuse for this poor cooking and 
indifferent service, for the markets were well 
supplied, and in private houses and clubs the 


tables are excellent. A good hotel would be 
much appreciated by travelers. The custom of 
the country is to take morning coffee, break- 
fast at twelve, and dine at six or seven o^clock. 
In itself, considering its mongrel population, 
climate, and easy-going mode of life, and com- 
pared with any city of the United States, Mex- 
/ ico is interesting ; contrasted with Continental 
/ cities it is less so, and after its few ^^ sights " 
are exhausted it becomes tiresome for the 
•transient visitor — tiresome, that is, unless one 
devotes himself to the language, to a study of 
antiquities, or to social problems, such as that 
of the mixed race. All big cities are much 
alike after the surface novelties are worn off. 
There remains, of course, " society," somewhat 
secluded under the republic, and slightly en- 
livened by the foreign legations. There are 
many German and French merchants, and a 
few Englishmen doing business, but there are 
/ no American merchants. Generally speaking, 
the Americans, who have drifted in from the 
frontier as adventurers, or have fled here for 
personal reasons, have not been men who gave 
V the Mexicans a favorable idea of American 
^ breeding, manners, or character. The railway 
service has carried there a different element. 
The Mexican himself thinks a great deal of 
manners and exterior courtesy, though his ideas 
of integrity are decidedly Oriental. 


In its shops the city is more modern than the 
traveler expects to finS it. Antiquity shops 
are few, and these have been pretty well ran- 
sacked by excursionists and dealers. Old 
Spanish lace and mantillas can only be had by 
chance, and old Spanish and Indian curios have 
been mostly picked up ; yet treasures remain 
to the patient searcher in the way of old books, 
especially Spanish ; and odd things illustrating 
the costumes and the industries of the country 
can be found occasionally. But as a rule the 
most characteristic things in the republic are to 
be sought in the provincial cities and the small 
villages. Lack of communication has preserved 
local peculiarities. Wherever the traveler goes, 
he will find some local flavor and some habits 
and costumes new to his experience. As to 
the "sights" of the city, they have been so 
fully written of that description in any detail 
would be out of place in a general view of this 
sort. The old tourist will probably most en- 
joy wandering about town and seeing how the 
Mexicans live; but there are a few sights that 
he must see in order to retain the respect of his 
home friends: these are the Cathedral, the 
Museum and Picture - Gallery, the National 
Library, Chapultepec, Guadalupe, the Noche 
Triste Tree, and the canal leading to Lake 


The Cathedral is perhaps imposing by its 
size, not otherwise — a jumble of bad Span- 
ish architecture, and barren and uninteresting 
within, in comparison with Continental cathe- 
drals. The Picture-Gallery, San Carlos, may 
have interest historically ; artistically it has 
none. The walls are hung with old Spanish 
^sacred rubbish, and the modern paintings are 
as bad, showing little new life or growth. 
There is not a painting that one would care to 
bring away for the cost of carriage. But the 
government has a school here, where pupils 
draw from casts and architectual designs. 
Much of the work of the pupils was creditable, 
and the school is full of promise. At the 
Museum of Mexican Antiquities the visitor will 
care to spend more time, though the country 
has been stripped of the relics of the old races 
by foreigners. There is a fair display of Aztec 
pottery, a little gold, a few ornaments, part of 
a dress worn by Montezuma; but the most 
interesting object in the part of the Museum 
that is arranged is the Aztec picture-writing. 
In a large lumber-room opening out of the 
court below, and usually kept locked, are the 
larger monuments of the old civilization. This 
room has an earth iBioor, and is in disorder. 
Carpenters are said to be at work in it, and the 
government has been for years putting it in 


order, but it is in about the condition of the 
Sultan's museum of antiquities at Constanti- 
nople. Here is the Calendar Stone, with its 
enigmatical figures, and sacrificial stones, the 
uncouth images, the heavy recumbent figures, 
with head raised and knees drawn up, the 
conical stones, haying serpents with feathers 
coiled about them. The impression made upon 
my mind by these objects was that, of gro- 
tesqueness. Probably they are not meaningless, 
but they seem so. There is nothing in our 
civilization or tradition that brings us en rap- 
port with them, or enables us to comprehend 
them. There is no beauty of form to appeal to 
us ; nothing in the sculpture or designs that 
comes within the scope of our ideas ; nothing 
intellectual. The inscriptions and characters 
give us no starting-point of sympathy. They 
seem to us not simply fantastic, but the work 
of people whose fancies were entirely out of 
the line of our own development. In this they 
differ wholly from the Egyptian remains, which 
are simpler, and, though we cannot understand 
them, appeal to something that we have in 
common with all antiquity. I am not referring 
to the comparative difficulty of reading the 
Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Mexican char- 
acters or ornamental designs, but to the essen- 
tial difference in the appearance to our eyes ; 


the one is civilized, and the other barbarous. 
The National Library, housed in a sequestrated 
church, is a vast collection of Spanish and 
mainly ecclesiastical literature, wanting a cata- 
logue and proper arrangement, but no doubt a 
good mousing-place for the student. 

On the 17th of February, in the afternoon, 
when we drove out the broad Paseo to Chapul- 
tepec, the wind was fresh and chilly, the day 
was cloudy, and later there was a little rain. 
Indeed, about this time of year clouds begin to 
gather late in the day, the air becomes thick 
and hazy in the distance, so that the high 
mountains are obscured. This thickening of 
the atmosphere does not mean usually imme- 
diate rain, but daily the cloudiness increases 
until the daily summer rains begin. After they 
set in, the atmosphere for the greater part of 
the day is dazzlingly clear. For scenery, there- 
fore, Mexico should be visited in the summer. 
The temperature is no higher than in the win- 
ter, on the high lands, but vegetation is fresh, 
and the air is clear. From the Paseo drive the 
twin snow-clad volcanoes Popocatepetl and fe- 
taccihuatl are visible ; but, especially in the 
winter atmosphere, they seem distant, and do 
not dominate the city as one is led to expect 
from the pictorial representations. 

Chapultepec is a mass of rock perhaps two 


hundred feet high, springing abruptly from the 
plain, but behind it are low elevations gradu- 
ally rising to the foot-hills. About the foot 
of this hill are semi-tropical gardens and the 
famous Cypress Grove. The roads winding 
through the noble avenues are the favorite re- 
sort for driving and riding. These trees, tower- 
ing to a great height, magnificent in the stately 
upspringing of their trunks, and lovely in the 
deep cinnamon-color of the bark, are not to be 
compared to anything I have seen elsewhere. 
They are very old ; one of them is called the 
Tree of Montezuma, and the grove was no 
doubt old when he reigned. I put the tape to 
one of them five feet above the ground, and got 
a girth of thirty-nine feet. I believe the Mon- 
tezuma tree is larger. 

The summit of the hill is reached by a wind- 
ing carriage road, and here on a small uneven 
plateau are massed the President's palace and 
the Military School, the West Point of the 
republic. Admission is by card from the Gov- 
ernor of the city, and usually gives access sim- 
ply to the grounds; but as one of our party 
had friends in the school, we were very cour- 
teously shown everything in the academy and 
the palace. The cadets were fine, intelligent 
young fellows ; the place was thoroughly neat, 
and discipline seemed good. I do not know 


enough about war to compare this with other 
schools of the same character, but its appli- 
ances seemed rather limited. There is, how- 
ever, a cannon foundry in the neighborhood, / 
and a manufactory of Winchester arms. We 
looked with interest at the monument erected 
to the memory of the cadets who fell in the 
defense of the place in our war with Mexico — 
mere striplings who fought like heroes, and are 
held in great honor. There is still a good deal 
of feeling about this fight in the academy. If 
the Mexican soldiers had been as courageous 
and manly as these boys, our capture of the 
city would have been a much more diflScult 
undertaking. The palace, in process of refur- 
nishing for the residence of the President, is a 
tolerably fine building only, but the interior 
decorations are elegant, very costly, and for the 
most part in exquisite taste. This taste, how- 
ever, except in some rooms whose walls are 
tiled with beautiful tiles distinctly Persian in 
color and effect, is the taste of New York. 
The palace has charming galleries and ombras, 
and pretty cultivated gardens in its enclosure. 
The charm of it, however, is in its noble situ- 
ation. There are grander views in the world 
than that from its esplanade, but few more poeti- 
cal or oflfering so great variety, few that change 
more in varied beauty with the different lights 


and changing atmosphere. One does not need 
to summon all the romance and history of the 
place to enjoy the prospect. It is that of the 
vast basin of Mexico, with its shining city, its 
glittering lakes, its silver canals, its luxury of 
vegetation, its villages and church towers, and 
around all the circuit of mountains, huge, hazy, 
and dreamy, the whole steeped in color, and 
lording it over all the twin snow peaks, white, 
spotless, standing on the edge of eternal sum- 
mer, pure as the rare air of their perpetual 

On the tramway that runs to Atzcapotzalco 
over the causeway, in the little hamlet of Po- 
potla, some three miles from the Plaza, stands 
what remains of the Noche Triste Tree. It 
is said that Cortez halted by this tree and 
wept on the awful night of his expulsion from 
the city. This touch of emotion in the con- 
queror has consecrated the spot more than a 
victory. This once gigantic cypress is now 
only a decayed stump, the interior half burned 
out, but it still supports a few straggling 
branches, from which gi-ay moss depends like 
a funeral trapping. It is protected by an iron 
fence, and a policeman lounges near to see that 
no visitor chips off a relic from it. There was 
not much life about the open triangle where 
it stands, only a beggar, the usual young girl 


with a baby, a barefooted Indian trotting by 
with her basket, and some Mexican women in 
the door of a pulque shop. 

Guadalupe, famous for the shrine of Our 
Lady of that name, is a rocky hill, very like 
Chapultepec, and about as far north of the 
city as Chapultepec is to the south. They are 
two corresponding sentinels of the plain. At 
the foot of the hill is the cathedral, very large, 
but remarkable for nothing except a superb 
altar railing of silver. Near it is a pretty pub- 
lic garden, with a fountain and sweet-smelling 
shrubs, the ground carpeted with violets. It 
speaks much for the gentle and refined charac- 
ter of the Mexicans that such cool little nooks 
of beauty and repose are common. At a little 
distance, but still on the plain, is the highly 
decorated chapel of Our Lady. In the vesti- 
bule and covered by an iron cage is a bubbling 
spring of cool mineral water, pungent, but 
agreeable to the taste, and much resorted to 
by the thirsty and the devout. It sprang up in 
the spot where Our Lady appeared to the peas- 
ant, a most gracious miracle. From this chapel 
a zigzag paved road, with shrines set at the 
angles, leads up the hill to the church and cem- 
etery on the top. The church — always filled 
with peasant worshipers, men in ragged attire, 
kneeling women with the graceful ribosa drawn 


over the head, and half-clad children — is only 
a bare chapel, but there are some fine tombs in 
the cemetery, and there lies Santa Anna, the 
hero of so many defeats. The view from the es- 
planade is very fine, and of the same character 
and extent as that from Chapultepec, except 
that Lake Tezcoco is a more prominent feature 
in the landscape. It is a place to dream in ; ro- 
mance, history, beauty, the contrasts of nature 
— what has not Heaven done for this delicious 
land ? Is it true that where nature is most lav- 
ish the people are least worthy ? But whatever 
these people lack, they have apparent content- 
ment. What a gentle atmosphere of peace and 
repose there was about the shrine, and in the 
garden, and in the shadow of the cathedral, 
where the women sat selling little cakes, varie- 
gated in color, about as big as Lima beans, 
which they patted into shape, and baked over 
charcoal fires in sight of the purchasers. 

Whatever the tourist omits, he should not 
neglect a ride on La Viga, the canal that 
connects the city with Lake Chalco. If he 
cannot spend a day threading this tropical 
marsh-land, this unique country of dikes, "float- 
ing gardens," water-fowl, brilliant vegetation, 
and semi-amphibious people, let him at least go 
as far as the hamlet of Santa Anita, in the 
midst of the Chinampas — a pleasure resort of 


the middle and lower classes. Here are a world 
and a life different from any other, and yet 
curiously suggestive of many others ; a mixture 
of Egypt, Venice, and the South Sea Islands. 
We took boat at the Embarcadero, on an arm 
of the canal that enters the city, a most un- 
savory but picturesque place. Here are rows 
of barges, vegetable boats, and canoes. Our 
boat was a flat-bottomed parallelogram, with 
striped calico awning and curtains, and seats 
along the sides. The size of the boat and the 
lowness of the canopy are determined by the 
low arch of a bridge which has to be passed by 
all boats in the main canal. Our boatman was 
a squat, sturdy - legged, yellow Mexican, who 
stood in the bow, and used a pole to propel the 
boat. When once we were clear of the small 
canal, with its washer- women, loafers, evil- 
smelling habitations, tanneries, and the ruck of 
city life, and came into the broad silver stream, 
the poling boatman sent us on with an easy, 
lulling motion, diflEerent from the gyration of 
the gondola, but as fascinating ; and we were 
in a world of novelty, color, and repose — a 
blue sky, a gentle breeze that just makes spar- 
kling the placid stream, and banks offering 
constant novelties. 

In the neglect and decay there is a certain 
charm ; low houses overrun with honeysuckle 


and Castilian roses, ruins embowered in callas, 
poplars and cotton woods overhanging the water, 
gardens wild and tangled, a low doorway in a 
brown adobe hut, with a group of dark-skinned 
girls and children, a field of yellow grain strewn 
with flaming poppies, the great sweep of level 
vegetation, intersected by ditches and canals 
stretching away oflE to the white twin moun- 
tains. The scene, so reposeful, is full of life. 
A road runs by the canal, and here dash along 
horsemen in gay trappings, big-hatted, silver- 
spangled riders, and saddles and bridles stiflE 
with ornament, carriages with lolling beauties, 
or packed with noisy pleasure-seekers, swar- 
thy Indian women, wrapped in a single strip 
of cotton, trotting along under their burdens ; 
there are the tinkling of guitars in way-side 
resorts, the calls of boatmen and of laborers in 
the gardens. The stream is enlivened by crafts 
of all sorts — dugouts, canoes, barges, each on 
its errand of business or pleasure. Whatever 
the occupation, whatever the want, or the dis- 
sipation, or the indigence, it all seems like a 
holiday. Barges going to the city market are 
piled high with vegetables — golden carrots, 
blood-red beets, green cabbages, laid up in 
square masses like masonry ; heaps of color ; 
boat - loads of flowers — sweet - peas, poppies, 
pinks, roses, gillyflowers, flaming in the sun, 


and filling the air with perfume as they pass, 
and long scows packed with men, women, and 
children of the shopkeeping class out for a hol- 
iday. One boat-load of revelers draws to our 
side, and as we float along through this en- 
chanting land, the men, thrumming the guitar, 
the mandolin, and the zither, play for us the 
Mexican national anthem, and the minor dance 
music which comes down from the Moors of 
Spain, and the women, dark, comely, with 
Egyptian features and Egyptian languor, shoot 
glances from under their ipibosas at the foreign- 
ers. These people have the good-humor, the 
complacency, the passion, of their clime. 

Santa Anita is an Indian village, a collection 
of low thatched houses, African in appearance, 
set in plantations of bananas and cacti, with 
narrow, clean-swept streets, pulque shops, and 
houses of entertainment for the lower orders. 
It is a shabby sort of paradise ; the city rough 
is here, the dissolute players on mandolins, the 
bedizened young Mexican, the shapely, bronze- 
limbed Indian who works in the fields or poles 
the boats through the net- work of canals, the 
painted city yellow-girl, the broad-faced Indian 
girl who sells flowers cut out of beets and 
carrots, and the hot little messes which the 
Mexicans love; and here the municipal police 
are more numerous than elsewhere, for here is 


always a more or less suspicious lot of idlers 
and pleasure-seekers, come to eat stewed duck, 
tamales, and the piquant compounds of chile 
and chopped meat, and above all to drink 
pulque. The Chinampas^ or so-called floating 
gardens, which surround this hamlet and dc- 
cupy all this vast marsh territory, and which 
supply the city "with vegetables and flowers, are 
not at all floating. They are little patches of 
ground, sometimes not bigger than a blanket, 
formed by scraping up the earth in a mound, 
which is held in place by wattles. The "water 
flows around each patch of ground, so that the 
whole region is a net-work of ditches and 
canals, set with little squares of vegetables and 
flowers. The people who cultivate these damp 
spots live in their boats or in the most primi- 
tive huts, and pass, as we said, a semi-amphi- 
bious existence, on a moral plane as low as their 
country ; yet they seem to be a vigorous race, 
and the sculptor would find many good models 
here. Flowers, music, an equable climate that 
calls for no more exertion in winter than in 
summer, and demands not much in the way of 
food or clothing, a mixed blood in which flow 
the vices of two continents — it is not here that 
one expects the virile Puritan virtues that make 
an effective people. But so fascinating, so pic- 
turesque, so full of light and color and warmth, 


is this region of Capuan suggestions that it is 
not till afterward that the tourist indulges in 
such reflections. 

In returning we followed the small canal 
down into the heart of the city, to one of the 
great popular market-places. Here, where lie 
the barges with their gay loads of fruits, flow- 
ers, and vegetables, where the canal crosses the 
streets under low, flat arches, one is faintly 
reminded of the Rialto. But it is one of the 
lowest parts of the city, and at night might 
be dangerous. It swarms with ill-favored, ill- 
savored people, a brutal populace, streets of 
second-hand shops, rags, low resorts, and pulque 
shops, with as many drunken women as drun- 
ken men. 

One can study in the city, as in any large 
city, all sorts of life, but the ordinary tourist 
finds it wanting in the attractions of Conti- 
nental cities. But the city is not only the 
capital, it is the centre of all the political life 
of the republic. For in all outward forms this 
is a federal republic. The city and its environs 
form the federal district, in the State of Mexico. 
Besides this state there are twenty -six other 
states, each with its governor and local legisla- 
ture, its system of schools. The federal consti- 
tution is a model one, there is all the machinery 
of a republican government, two elected HouseSf 


a President popularly chosen for a term of six 
years, who is ineligible again until a term has 
intervened. But the President is in fact elected 
by agreement among a knot of leaders, and the 
office is a matter of arrangement, bargained for 
usually a loug time in the future. Every gov- 
ernor of a state is practically dictated by this 
little junta at the capital, and every officer, 
even to mayors of cities, is so chosen. It is the 
most purely personal government in the world. 
Whatever elective forms are gone through 
with, this is the fact. When the first term of 
Diaz expired, Gonzales came in by arrange- 
ment ; when the latter retired, it was to a 
governorship. Diaz has a predominance of 
Indian blood, Gonzales of Spanish. 

In his first term Diaz took an enlightened 
view of the needs of Mexico and its external 
relations. He invited capital and promoted 
railways by liberal subsidies. The railways 
were built; the subsidies have not been paid. 
The country was infested with brigands. These 
brigands were not Indians, but of the mixed 
Spanish race who had possessions, and took to 
the highways only on occasion, or when the 
country was politically disturbed. Vigorous 
efforts were made to suppress this by the gov- 
ernment. Gonzales had the reputation of be- 
ing t]9L9 hwd of tbesQ. quasi-brigandff. Wh^n 


he came into power brigandage was still more 
effectively suppressed. People say that his 
method was to pat all the brigands in office, 
make them governors, mayors, and high district 
officials, where they could make more than by 
intercepting caravans, stopping diligences, and 
carrying off owners of haciendas. And it is 
universally believed in Mexico that Gonzales 
in his term of four years saved out of his salary 
between twelve and eighteen millions of dol- 
lars, which is now well invested. These leaders 
are astute diplomatists, as wary and as supple 
and subtle as the Turks. Whoever makes a 
treaty with them is likely to be confused by 
the result ; whoever invests money in Mexico, 
either in public works or in private enterprise, 
does so at his risk. Any basis of confidence 
is wanting in business. The Mexicans do not 
trust each other. They always seem surprised 
^when a foreigner does as he said he woulS do. 
The moral condition is something like that of 
Egypt. The atmosphere of Egypt is one of 
universal lying. We who are accustomed to 
do business on universal faith — the presump- 
tion being that a man is honest until the con- 
trary is proved — cannot understand a . social 
state where the contrary is the assumption. 

One can readily grant to Diaz patriotic in- 
tentions, and the desire to have Mexico take an 


honorable place in the world ; but justice is not 
had priceless in the courts, the officials are all 
serving their own interests, and official corrup- 
tion is universal. And yet travel is now safe, 
public order is maintained, and there is marked 
progress in education. Still, whatever the gov- 
ernment is, there is no public, no public opin- 
ion, no general comprehension of political ac- 
tion, no really representative government, or 
representative election. There are few news- 
papers, the peoplie are not informed, and the 
mass of them are indifferent, so long as they 
are personally not disturbed. In only one case 
(the action of the Congresfl in regard to the 
English debt — action promoted by a deter- 
mined demonstration of the students in the 
city) has there been any sign of the indepen- 
dence of the legislature. Mexico remains, in 
effect, a personal government with no political 
public. I am making no sweeping declaration 
as to the character of the mongrel population ; 
it has its good points. These will appear as 
we travel further. 


CuAUTLA is a typical Mexican village in 
the temperate region, about 4000 feet above 
the sea, in the State of Morelos, which adjoins 
the State of Mexico on the south. It is reached 
by a railway — eighty miles in seven hours — 
which climbs out of the valley eastward, and 
then runs south and west, making an almost 
exact half-circle to its destination. In Mexico 
the railways must run where the mountains 

The first part of the way lies over the flat 
plain, through the chinampas^ or little patches 
of truck gardens, over narrow canals and 
ditches, through overflowed ground with tufts 
of marsh-grass, and between the two lakes. 
The whole region is alive with teal ducks, 
which rise from the lagoon and whirl away in 
flocks as the train passes. On the slightly ele- 
vated roads donkeys laden with vegetables 
(the patient beast which a witty woman calls 
" the short and simple animal of the poor "), 
Indian women, also bent to their burdens, 
short, with flat faces, brown legs, small feet, 


and small hands — the aristocracy of the soil 
— and Mexican laborers in ragged scrapes and 
broad straw hats, file along toward the city. 
Soon abrupt elevations in the plain are reached, 
picturesque heights with churches, and the foot- 
hills are entered. The journey grows more in- 
teresting as we ascend, the adobe villages have 
a more foreign character, arid the mixed pop- 
ulation becomes more picturesque in costume 
and habits. The train is made up of first, sec- 
ond, and third-class cars. The Mexican men 
in the first-class, yellow half-breeds, are gor- 
geous in arr9,y, wearing enormous and heavy 
high-crowned, broad-brimmed hats, loaded with 
silver and gold bullion, trousers braided down 
the seams or thick sewn with coins or buttons 
of silver, every man with a pistol ostentatiously 
strapped on his waist, and many of them carry- 
ing guns. These gentlemen are going to hunt 
at some hacienda in the hills, and at the sta- 
tions where they alight there is great scurrying 
about, getting into rickety carriages, mounting 
heavily caparisoned little horses, which fidget 
and curvet. There is an aniusing air of bra- 
vado about it all. 

The third-class cars have four parallel 
benches running from end to end, and are 
packed with a motley throng — Indian-looking 
Mexican women in blue ribosas, plenty of chil- 


dren and babies, men in soiled serapes and big 
hats, everybody eating some odd mess. At all 
the stations the train makes a long halt, and 
the sides of the cars swarm with hucksters, 
mostly women and boys, offering the zapotas 
and other tasteless fruits, tamcUes and other in- 
describable edibles, ices (flavored and colored 
snow), pink drinks faintly savored with limes, 
and pulque. The toTncd is a favorite composite 
all over the republic. It consists of chopped 
meat, tomatoes, and chile rolled in a tortillal 
The tortilla, perhaps it is necessary to say, th4 
almost universal country substitute for bread, 
is a cake made of maize, and about the size 
of a large buckwheat cake* Its manufacture 
is one of the chief occupations of the women. 
In almost every hut and garden one can hear 
the grinding and the patting of the tortilla. 
Seated on the ground, the woman has beside 
her a dish of soaking grains of maize. In front 
of her is a curved stone, and upon this she 
mashes the maize with a stone roller held in 
both hands until it is a paste. This paste she 
moulds and skillfully pats into shape, and lays 
upon a piece of sheet-iron to bake over a char- 
coal fire. Too often it is like Ephraim — "a 
cake not turned." 

Beggars abound, hideously malshapen and 
afflieted. At one station a sightless giant 



(who could, however, see a train of cars and 
pick up a piece of money), six feet four inches 
in his bare feet, a mass of streaming hair and 
tattered clothes, roared aloud for charity. 
Kneeling on the ground opposite the cars, so 
that his face was about on a level with the 
windows, he delivered a long oration in sono- 
rous Spanish. When a bit of money was thrown 
him he picked it up and kissed it fervently, 
and called down all the blessings of Heaven 
on the giver. When he got nothing he cursed 
the entire train in a blast of anti-Scriptural 
language enough to blow it off the track. He 
does very well at this business, and is the 
owner of houses, and is a comfortable citizen 
when not excited by a railway train. The 
population, on the whole, looks poor and de- 
graded ; but the women, though squat in jBgure 
and aboriginal in feature, the Indian type pre- 
dominating over the Spanish, have pleasant 
faces, and wear an aspect of patience. 

At and before we reached Amecameca, an 
elevation of over 8000 feet, the twin snow 
mountains rose in view, and thereafter lorded 
it over the landscape in all our winding way. 
From Amecameca the ascent of Popocatepetl 
is usually made, and the cone shows very 
grandly across the ravine from its elevation. 
This is the village of sacred shrines and noble 


groves, much resorted to by pilgrims and ex- 
cursionists. At the sacred festival in May as 
many as 40,000 worshipers assemble here. At 
Ozumba, where the road begins to descend, 
we breakfasted very well for fifty cents, in a 
rude shanty, on eggs, rice, beefsteak, three or 
four other kinds of meat and stews, sweets, 
pulque, and black cofEee. The pulque is best 
in these high regions. It is a viscous milk- 
white fluid, very wholesome and sustaining, 
and would be a most agreeable drink if it 
" tasted good." In fact it tastes, when it has 
been a few days fermented, like a mixture of 
buttermilk and sour cider. But many stran- 
gers become very fond of it. The older it grows 
the more intoxicating it is. As the reader 
knows, probably, it is drawn from the maguey 
plant, called by us the " century," which grows 
on these elevations to a great size, and is the 
cleanest-limbed and most vigorous and whole- 
some-looking product of the region. When it 
matures it shoots up a stout spike ten or twenty 
feet high from the centre, bearing brilliant or- 
ange flowers. When the plant is ready to tap, 
the centre stalk is cut out, and the sap collects 
in the cup thus formed. It is dipped out, or 
sucked out by a tube, and when first drawn is 
mild, cool, and refreshing. In about three 
days it begins to ferment. As it is often car^ 


ried to market on the backs of natives in pig 
or goat skins, it gets a disagreeable flavor. The 
maguey plant has many uses. It is eaten cut 
up and preserved like melon rinds. Its long 
tough fibre is very extensively used in making 
ropes and cordage. The end of each leaf ter- 
minates in a hard, sharp, black thorn. Break 
off this thorn and strip down the fibres attached 
to it, and you have a capital needle and thread 
for coarse sewing. Tlie muleteers use it to 
mend their saddles and broken harness straps. 
What encouragement is threre to industry when 
nature furnishes in one plant drink, food, nee- 
dles and thread, and a rope for lariats ? 

From Ozumba the descent was rapid, in most 
extraordinary loops and curves, the long train, 
which was nearly all freight cars, so doubling 
on itself that the passengers in the rear car 
could almost shake hands with the engineer 
on the curves. The air on the summit had 
been cool, but it grew rapidly warm as we de- 
scended to Cuautla. Olive groves were seen 
on the slopes, and peach-trees were in bloom in 
the little mud villages. The descent was ex- 
citing in its rapidity, and the ever-changing 
view — a vast panorama of mountains and val- 
leys — kept us on the qui vive. In our wind- 
ings the twin volcanoes were always in sight, 
first on one side and then on the other, Popo- 


catepetl, almost a regular cone of snow, 17,500 
feet in the azare sky, and Iztaccihuatl, a little 
lower, but longer, with a jagged, serrated sum- 
mit, and buttressed by gigantic ledges. Noth- 
ing is finer than the majesty of these mountains, 
so rich in color, so changing in hue at different 
angles of vision, so nobly dominating the vast 
slopes down which we were rushing. The 
country was brown in this dry season, but the 
soil looked fertile, ready to burst into bloom 
with the summer rains. As we wound down 
into the valley, shabby brown villages, both 
Mexican and Indian, were passed, each with its 
big cathedral, some of the churches almost in 
ruins and deserted, remnants of the old Spanish 
religious enthusiasm. In some of these Indian 
villages quite primitive customs prevail still, 
and the inhabitants are as shy of foreigners as 
they were before the conquest. The plain of 
Cuautla is watered by a cool mountain stream, 
and abundantly irrigated ; trees dot the valley, 
and we had the welcome sight of green fields. 
Just before reaching the town we ran through 
vast plantations of cane in all stages of growth. 
Cuautla, which is too hot and damp in the 
summer, has a singularly agreeable winter cli- 
mate, with a warm, direct sun, but a very 
genial atmosphere. The railway has a pictu- 
resque station and storehouse in an abandoned 


church. We passed from that across a tree- 
planted square to the Hotel San Diego. This 
is a house of one story, with interior colonnades, 
built about a large court or garden. All the 
rooms, which have brick or stone floors, and 
are furnished only with movable cots, a chair, 
a small washstand, a bit of mirror (when the 
irresponsible maid-of-all-work does not carry it 
away to some other apartment), and perhaps 
a mat by the cot-side, open on the court, and 
most of them have no other opening for light 
and air except the door. A few on the street 
have windows and wooden shutters. The fare 
is not quite as primitive as the apartments, for 
the French landlord introduces some variety 
into the Mexican cuisine. The garden, al- 
though the kitchen is on one side of it, and it 
is not altogether tidy, is a sunny, lovely spot, 
with a fountain, flowers, bananas, a date-palm, 
zapotas, jinnies, and other fruit and flowering 
plants, and Popocatepetl is seen over its trees. 

It is difficult to give an idea of a village so 
foreign to general experience. Oriental in so 
many of its aspects, and semi-tropical in its 
vegetation. Its main streets are regular, con- 
tinuous blocks of one-story adobe houses and 
shops — the latter like those in an Italian 
village — and present mainly blank walls to 
the passer-by, through the doors of which one 


looks into a court or a garden. There is a for« 
mal plaza, with the municipal buildings and 
shops on three sides, and the principal church 
on the other, none of them remarkable ; but the 
plaza has fountains, sweet shrubs, trees, and 
flowers, and a band-stand. The minor streets 
are simply monotonous rows of adobe walls, 
some are narrow and roughly paved, but half 
the town consists of lanes, dusty and unpaved, 
bordered with gardens and huts, and overhung 
with the foliage of fruit trees and with vines. 
It is all novel, however ; the odd little shops — 
bakers', butchers', barbers', jewelers', all on a 
small scale and primitive — and the queer cos- 
tumes, bits of colors in the walls, groups of yel- 
low children, a dog riding a donkey, pretty 
girls in the doorways, women in ribosas, men 
in white, always with the enormous hats : some 
strange sight continually catches the eye. In 
one of the churchyards are the handsome trees 
whose flowers are bunches of long crimson tas- 
sels, and in another are the parotas, splendid 
growths, one of them overrun with a gigantic 
vine, the copa de oro^ which hung out all over 
it its great yellow flowers, literal cups of gold. 
In the large church a few people were kneeling 
on the floor, women mostly; the interior was 
cheap and shabby, and gaudily painted in 
staring colors. 


The reason that the shops are so small and 
of little consequence is that almost all the buy- 
ing and selling is done in open market on the 
regular market-day. To this the dealers take 
their merchandise, and the country people 
bring their produce. In Cuautla Sunday is 
the chief market day, and to the market we 
went after morning coffee. It was a large 
open space, dusty, with booths about the sides, 
and a couple of roofed platforms in the middle. 
Here were for sale meats, vegetables, fruits, 
mats, hats, sugar, cloth, every sort of merchan- 
dise, mostly spread upon the ground. Oriental 
fashion. But for the absence of camels and 
turbans and dervishes one might have fancied 
himself in a North African market-place. It 
was thronged. The women in cotton gowns 
of sober colors, now and then one of faint 
pink; all wore the ribosa, and all had broad 
faces and Indian features. But the real Indian 
women were easily distinguished ; shorter, with 
heavy masses of coarse black bair, and rather 
copper than yellow in color, they uniformly 
wore two strips of dark blue cloth, which were 
wrapped about them so as to reveal part of the 
bosom and leave the sturdy brown legs bare. 
The men wore white shirts, pleated and 
starched before and behind, and worn outside 
the white cotton trousers, and of course the 


broad bat, usually of straw. Tbese people, 
except the Indians, who come in from tbeir 
little villages witb a bandful of vegetables or 
some tortillas to sell, are hybrids of various 
shades, witb much of the Spanish courtesy and 
civility, but indolent in manner, and appar- 
ently perfectly satisfied in their ignorance and 

As good a specimen of a semi-tropical gar- 
den as one will see anywhere is that of Cortina 
Mendoza. It is an extensive fruit plantation, 
and is rather an orchard than a garden, though 
it resembles neither in our experience. It is a 
thicket of luxuriant and sweet-smelling and 
spicy vegetation, and one strays in its dark and 
damp allee8 in a tropical gloom, into which 
the sun penetrates in rifts and gleams. Water 
diverted from the river rushes through it in 
swift streams — pure water, the ever-pleasant 
moisture of which fills all the garden — and 
small conduits from the canals keep the whole 
surface water-soaked, except the elevated paths. 
Here grow in a wild tangle bananas and 
plantains, thickly set along the streams as 
rushes by a meadow brook; the mango, the 
maraey, and papaya — all large trees; the or- 
ange, lemon, and the lime, and the coffee-plant. 
It is a wilderness of strange foliage, swinging 
vines, penetrating odors, and brilliant colors. 


Amid the dark leaves gleam the white blos- 
soms of orange and lemon and their golden 
globes of fruit, the yellowing mangos, and the 
red cofifee-berries. Coming into this place of 
deep shade, dampness, and coolness, out of the 
hot and dusty street, this fenced section of 
green foliage and bright fruit, one appreciates 
the passion the Orientals have for running 
water and shade. But it is all unkempt and 
untidy, and to the eye accustomed to neatness 
and orderly cultivation, this wild plantation is 
typical of the character of this civilization. 

It is the slack time of the year (February) 
for fruits in this region, and the few, like the 
chico papaya, that are ripening are flat and 
tasteless — indeed the majority of tropical 
fruits are always insipid to our palates. But it 
is the time of the maturing of the coflEee-berry. 
This plant requires abundant water and heat 
and shade. When not planted by waterways 
in such a fruit forest as this, it is set out in ba- 
nana thickets, whose broad leaves protect it 
from the direct rays of the sun. The plant is 
a hardy shrub, with a stem from two to three 
inches in diameter, and growing ten or twelve 
feet high — a very respectable tree. From 
some of the young saplings I cut good walk- 
ing-sticks. The berries grow on the slender 
branches, wticb droop under the weight like 


the willow : if you lift one, it is as heavy as if 
it were strung with beads of glass. When ripe 
the berry is deep red in color, oval in form, 
and in size varying from that of a thorn-apple 
to a hazel-nut. Inside the skin is a soft sweet- 
ish pulp, and this embeds the two beans, which 
lie with the flat faces touching, and each fur- 
ther protected by a thin membrane. When the 
majority of the berries are red they are stripped 
from the branches and spread upon mats to 
dry, and sometimes upon the ground. Dried, 
the berries shrivel and become black, and they 
are then passed through a machine to separate 
the pulp from the berries. The beans, after 
further drying, are pounded in a wooden mor- 
tar to free them from the thin membrane. 
The bean, which is then of a faint green color, 
is ready for market ; but it needs age before it 
is fit to be ground for coffee, and the older it is 
the better ; in two years' time it gets a good 
flavor. In this way of harvesting and curing of 
course the unripe and imperfect berries are in- 
cluded with the good, and the product is infe- 
rior. While drying, if the berry gets wet from 
the dew or a chance shower, its flavor is im- 
paired ; and when it is spread on earth floors 
to dry, I fancy it gets an earthy taste. The 
Mexican coffee, which with proper care is as 
delicious as any in the world, not excelled for 


richness and fineness of flavor by the Arabian, 
is as a rule rudely prepared. It will come into 
great popularity under more scientific handling. 
The product, which is large, is nearly all con- 
sumed at home, for the Mexicans are great 
coffee-drinkers ; but with its soil and climate 
there is no reason why Mexico cannot grow 
coffee for all the Western world. 

There is a great mystery about the varieties 
and grades of coffee — Java, old Java, Mocha, 
Rio, etc. It is my opinion, from what I saw 
of the growth and preparation in Mexico, that 
the same plant produces in appearance all these 
varieties — though I do not mean to say that 
there is not a difference in flavor in the coffee- 
bean grown in Brazil, Mexico, the Sandwich 
Islands, and Arabia. A considerable proportion 
of the Mexican coffee is grown from the Ara- 
bian or Mocha bean. The Mocha, as we know 
it in Europe or in this country, is a small round 
berry, not flattened on one side, but creased. 
Each berry contains only one bean. Now all 
the coffee-plants that I saw in Mexico bear ber- 
ries with one bean and with two beans ; on very 
old plants there are more single-bean berries 
than on the yonng plants, and single-bean ber- 
ries grow on the ends of the branches. There 
is a famous variety of coffee in Mexico called 
the Colima, said to be from the Mocha berry. 


I have no doubt that it is. But coffee resem- 
bliug the Colima bean in appearance and flavor 
is produced elsewhere in Mexico, and is merely 
a matter of selection. I saw it at Uruapan in 
the west, ai)d at Coatepec on the east coast. 
Pick out from the beans of any field all the 
small round ones, and you have Mocha ; then 
select the fair, well-grown, flat beans, and you 
have a good quality of Java ; the refuse, broken 
and imperfectly ripened beans, you can send to 
market under any name you please. 

I suppose that the low repute the Mexican 
coffee of commerce has had is owing to the 
fact that it has been thrown into the market 
green and without selection. Its cultivation 
and handling are usually very primitive. Ripe 
and unripe berries are stripped from the stalk ; 
in drying on mats or the ground it is likely to 
acquire foreign flavors, and no care is taken to 
reject the imperfect beans. Careful growers, 
foreigners, are beginning to use more scientific 
processes. They will pick or buy none but the 
red, perfectly ripe, berries. These are imme- 
diately put through the machines for removing 
the pulp. The beans are then dried on frames 
in ovens with low artificial heat, and the grains 
are carefully picked over before they are sacked. 
The natives say that the coffee gains a desirable 
flavor by being dried in the sweet pulp. All 


the Mexican coffee, of sufficient age, that I 
tasted, has a delicious flavor, but it is often 
' spoiled in its preparation for the table. It is 
commonly burned too much. Ground to a fine 
powder, and placed in a vessel with a fine sieve 
bottom, water is poured on, and the fluid drips 
through slowly, drop by drop, requiring hours 
to collect a small cup of liquor. This is very 
strong, and black as ink. It is the very essence 
or extract of coffee, and a table-spoonful of it 
is enough when added to hot milk to make a 
large cup of coffee. The traveler will do well 
to procure a bottle of this extract in order to 
strengthen his hotel coffee. 

We spent a week at Cuautla, and might have 
stayed there months, as many tourists and in- 
valids do, and not have tired of its easy-going, 
picturesque life. We wander along one of the 
dusty lanes, vine-embowered, mount some un- 
even stone steps, and through a door in the 
wall enter, not a house, but a garden. Yet it 
is a house, and we are in the midst of domestic 
life. There is a pool of water, perhaps a run- 
ning stream ; large fruit trees cast a dense 
shade ; splendid oleanders are in flower ; the 
coffee-berries are ripening red ; the great plan- 
tain leaves, whipped to strings by the wind, 
rustle in the breeze. Children, half naked, are 
playing about, racing after the donkey or chas- 


ing each other in the leafy alUe%. Sombre- 
looking men lounge about the huts in a per- 
petual siesta. Some of the huts are of adobe, 
open in front, with an earth floor. By the 
entrance, sitting on the ground, a woman is 
grinding com on a stone and baking tortillas. 
Always one hears in all these houses and gar- 
dens, at all hours of the day, the soft pat-pat- 
ting of the tortilla cakes. Very likely the hut 
is of cane, a mere shelter from the sun and 
dew, and several of them grouped together 
make the different rooms of the house; or it 
may be a more pretentious dwelling, round in 
form, the walls of cane, and the conical roof 
heavily thatched with brown grass. Perhaps 
there is a palm-tree near, and, with the bana- 
nas, the picture is exactly that of a Central 
African hut with its surroundings. The whole 
family, all its branches, with swarms of chil- 
dren, live in this garden, eating its fruits, suck- 
ing cane stalks, and procuring, I know not 
how, the one indispensable thing — maize to 
make the tortillas. In this fashion live a con- 
siderable proportion of the population of Mex- 
ico. How long will it be before they will care 
anything for politics or literature, and feel the 
restlessness of modern life ? Very Oriental all 
this — the thatched, conical huts, the luxuriant 
vegetation, the dark, lazy people. 


Cuautla has some reputation for its sulphur 
baths, to which rheumatic and other invalids 
resort occasionally. We drove one morning in 
the only vehicle the place possesses — a rum- 
bling, rickety carriage — out across the river 
bridge, and over a broken country, mostly a 
brown barren waste of land, with dried-up aro- 
matic shrubs and coarse herbage, a mile and a 
half to the baths. Beyond the bridge is a col- 
lection of huts and a shanty of entertainment, 
to which the lower orders resort for dancing 
and reveling. In a little rocky valley flows a 
strongly alkaline, clear stream, smelling of sul- 
phur, and where it falls into a couple of basins 
in the rock the bathers were assembled. The 
pools are of greenish hue, and clear as crystal. 
The bathing is delicious, but the arrangements 
for it are very primitive. The pools were occu- 
pied by men, women, and children, and others 
were undressing and dressing on the margin. 
Shelter there \vas none, except an angle in the 
rocky wall, and a couple of little cane huts. 
After waiting a long time until the women and 
children were withdrawn, I secured the angle 
in the rock, and succeeded in getting a dip in 
the crystal brook ; but none too soon, for fresh 
company continually arrived. I mention this* 
because it is a custom of the country, and the 
Mexicans do not mind this promiscuous bath* 


ing, though I believe they are as modest in 
fact as many of the bathers along our Atlantic 
coast. Strolling down the stream after the 
bath, I made the acquaintance of a Mexican 
family out for a holiday. They had bathed, 
and were now building a fire under a spreading 
sycamore to cook their mid-day meal, and en- 
joy an afternoon siesta. There was the vigor- 
ous mother, three or four young girls, prettier 
than Mexican young women usually are, and 
half a dozen small children. The whole party 
were full of merriment and good-nature, did 
not seem to regard the presence of a stranger 
as an intrusion, pressed upon me the hospital- 
ity of their unappetizing-looking " messes," and 
were friendly and cordial and simple, and as 
little self-conscious as if I had been a native. 
The country all about was a broken dry plain, 
with strange, fantastic flowering plants, a few 
cacti, and no grass. But the air was delicious, 
and the sky blue and cloudless. 

The Cuautla Valley is a vast sugar planta- 
tion, most of it the property of one man, Cor- 
tina Mendoza, a wealthy Mexican, reputed to 
be worth six millions of dollars, and the builder 
and chief owner of the Morelos Railway. His 
large hacienda and sugar factory are a few 
miles down the valley, and we reached them 
by a branch railway running through the cane 


fields. The whole region is perfectly irrigated. 
Cane matures in this country and blossoms as 
it never does in the short Louisiana season. 
We passed fields in all stages of growth — wet 
ground just set with new sprouts, stubble fields 
springing up anew, fields with green blades like 
young maize, fields nearly matured, with the 
red, sturdy stalks, and fields where the cutters 
were at work. The richness of the cane is 
judged not only by the size of the stalks, but 
by the length of the joints. The mature cane 
here was exceedingly rich in sugar. 

The hacienda is a vast establishment, a pile 
of buildings — dwelling-house, factory, sheds, 
stables, all together, the whole inclosed by a 
high wall, with cannon mounted at intervals. 
When the country was disturbed, this defen- 
sive preparation was needed by all the haciendas, 
which had to guard against attacks by brigands 
and chance plunderers. This is said to be the 
largest sugar hacienda in Mexico. I do not 
know the number of acres of cane under culti- 
vation ; it is about 2000 ; but the owner em- 
ploys 600 men in the mill, and 2500 altogether 
on his vast estate. He has imported and set 
up improved machinery to the value, it is said, 
of half a million dollars. The cane is maturing 
all the time, winter as well as summer, and the 
grinding goes on every day in the year. The 


sugar, which has one of the requisites of good 
sugar, great sweetness, is brown in color, and 
cast into conical loaves of twenty-five pounds 
each, the reported net profit to the owner on 
each loaf being one dollar. The Mexicans con- 
sume a great deal of sugar, probably nearly all 
they produce; and they say that they prefer 
the dark because it is sweeter than the white 
and the refined, and purer. 

Within the walls the scene was a very ani- 
mated one. The area was strewn with crushed 
cane stalks. Carts loaded with fresh cane, 
carts loaded with the crushed stalks, were con- 
stantly arriving and departing ; half naked 
men, their dark bodies shining with perspira- 
tion, dragged the cane from the carts, bound it 
for the swinging derricks that carried it to the 
crushers, or piled the vehicles with the refuse. 
Everybody was in a hurry ; the boys lashed 
the mules and shouted, and the incessant whir- 
ring of the mill machineiy seemed to commu- 
nicate its energy to the whole plantation. The 
crusher was always revolving; the stream of 
sweet sap was always pouring from its wheels 
into the channel to the boiling vats ; the boilers 
were always steaming ; in sticky, molasses-satu- 
rated rooms the centrifugals were always whirl- 
ing ; in long chambers men passed to and fro 
bearing the melted sugar and pouring it into 


the moulds ; in great drying-rooms stood rows 
on rows of sugar-loaves ; and in the shipping- 
house all was bustle and activity. We groped 
about in the half-dark caverns and recesses of 
this vast establishment, slipping on the sticky 
floors, sprinkled by the centrifugals, up stairs 
and down, until we were stunned by the noise 
and saturated with sweetness. Floors, walls, 
machinery, the ground — everything was plas- 
tered with sugar. I thought that if the prem- 
ises were ^^ cleaned up," as gold-mills are, sugar 
enough would be "tried out" to supply Cuautla 
for a year. 

The centre of all this life and whirl was one 
man ; his presence it was that made the mule 
carts race through the fields, the men shout 
and hurry in the yards, the wheels grind, the 
vats run, and the sugar take form. In a high, 
broad, dirty, recessed gallery, above the yard, 
and attached to the main factory, sits Cortina 
Mendoza, a giant of a man, long past the age of 
sixty, in a light summer suit, his ample fore- 
head shaded by a broad straw hat, black keen 
eyes glowing through his spectacles. Before 
him is a plain deal table, with an inkstand and 
a few papers. About him are dogs, servants, 
children, messengers coming and going, swarms 
of dark-skinned, half-clad heathen, amid the 
whir of the machinery and the braying of 


donkeys. This is his oflBce, Prom this plat- 
form he overlooks the whole moving panorama. 
Here he sits, hour after hour, day after day, a 
man taciturn, morose in appearance, dispatch- 
ing all business with a few curt words. He 
stops a minute in his work to greet us civilly, 
details an attendant to show us the mill, and 
asks afterward what he can do for us ; even 
rises when we depart, and regrets that he has 
not more time for hospitality. There he sits, 
reading and answering his correspondence, re- 
ceiving hourly reports from every part of his 
plantation, from each section of his works. He 
knows every hour just how much cane is 
brought in, what rate of sugar it is yielding, 
exactly the day's product, how many pounds 
have been made, how much shipped. The 
premises swarm with flies ; attracted by the 
sweets, they pervade the place, settling in black 
masses or darkening the air. It is an Egyptian 
plague. They literally cover the stalwart pro- 
prietor as he sits at his deal table. 

Cortina Mendoza is a widower. Years ago 
he lost his lovely and beloved wife, and the 
story is, he has since that bereavement devoted 
himself exclusively with a grim determination 
to his sugar hacienda. I was told that he is 
actually alone in the world. Of society cer- 
tainly he can have little in that mongrel crew 


among whom bis life is passed. He is very 
rich, as I said ; he has a fine house luxuriously 
furnished in Mexico. Seldom if ever does he 
visit it, seldom does he seek other society than 
that of his laborei*s and dependents. It is a hot 
place, that recess, hot even in February. But 
there sits, day after day, year in and year out, 
surrounded by swarms of steaming, half-naked 
servants, donkeys, and dogs, one of the richest 
men in Mexico, covered with flies ! 

The capacity of this country for sugar-grow- 
ing seems to me enormous. How can it be 
otherwise in regions where the soil is fertile, as 
it is in all the valleys, upland or lowland, where 
water is abundant for irrigation, where frost 
never comes, and the cane matures for grinding 
every day in the year, and where labor is still 
cheap ? There would seem to be no limit to 
its production, except the capital that is put 
into it. But notwithstanding the present cheap- 
ness of labor — from twelve cents to twenty- 
five cents a day — Mexico, in order to compete 
with its cane sugar in the markets of the world 
with the beet sugar, needs capital for labor- 
saving machinery and improved processes. And 
it is not easy to get that capital. There are 
very few Mexicans who have the energy or the 
ability to handle it if they had it. And there 
is the smallest encouragement for foreigners to 


go there. The law protects them in their 
rights just about in proportion to their ability 
to buy that protection from judges and the 
political officials. Every sort of hindrance is 
put upon business and commerce. There are 
heavy import duties, heavy export duties, 
stamp duties, octroi duties, duties between 
states. All this tax niight be borne if it were 
steady and fixed at different ports 'and places 
of entry, and if the taxes and customs were 
honestly levied and paid into the treasury. 
But they are not. The state of things existing 
in Egypt years ago obtains now in Mexico. A 
great proportion, perhaps the larger part, of 
the tax and custom dues goes into the pockets 
of the officials, and not into the treasury of the 
government. If the taxes laid and wrung from 
natives and foreigners went into the treasury, 
Mexico would be out of debt and financially 
prosperous. I think no one can deny this. The 
officials all get rich, the natives are kept poor, 
and the foreigners live in uncertainty. There 
is no uniformity in the official plundering. 
Importers of goods prefer to bring them in by 
the Central Railway rather than by Vera Cruz, 
because they can make better terms with the 
inland officials. I heard the story of an Eng- 
lish ship captain who brings cargoes to the 
west coast, which I have reason to believe to 


be true. When he reaches a western port he 
anchors, and lands in his small boat and ascer- 
tains what terms he can make at the custom- 
house. If they are unsatisfactory he sails to 
another port, and then to another, and he 
finally takes his goods ashore at the port where 
he can make the best terms with the customs 

In order to encourage mining and other in- 
dustries the government admits certain machin- 
ery free of duty. That is the law. But a 
foreigner seldom gets in any machinery without 
paying heavily on it, sometimes three or four 
hundred per cent, on its cost. It takes a good 
deal of money to convince the officials that it is 
machinery. If it is an engine, it of course 
comes in pieces. How can the officials tell that 
it is an engine ? If it is a bar of steel, how 
can the officials tell that it is for a drill ? An 
American miner who imported tubes to replace 
those worn out in his boiler had to pay six 
hundred dollars for what in the States cost him 
less than sixty dollars. A man on the line of 
the Central road waited weeks to get a carboy 
of sulphuric acid through the hands of the 
various officials. Its cost in El Paso was three 
dollars. He paid twenty-four dollars duties on 
it. When he opened the carboy it was empty ! 
Two invoices have to be made out, one in Eng- 


lish and one in Spanish. If any article is mis- 
spelled, not spelled exactly in the invoice as it 
is in the free schedule, it must pay duty. Of 
course it is the officials, and not the govern- 
ment, who profit by this clerical error. These 
are some of the hundreds of annoyances and 
hindrances in the way of doing business in 
Mexico. A foreigner must reckon, and does 
reckon^ as a part of his necessary outlay, money 
to keep on the right side of the officials. 

Of course the root of all these evils is not 
in the fact that Mexico is poor, and needs to 
squeeze everybody for a revenue, but in the 
fact that the government is purely a personal 
one, and run for the benefit, not of the people, 
but of the officials. And before this can be 
otherwise there has to be created in Mexico a 
public ; and this will be a long and slow pro- 
cess with a mongrel people civilized on the 
Egyptian basis of mutual distrust. 

in. — COATEPEO. 

One inconvenience in traveling in Mexico is 
the bulky silver money with which the tourist 
must load himself down. Whenever I moved 
any distance from the capital I carried a shot- 
bag full of the cart-wheel dollars, which were 
worth from nineteen to twenty-four cents less 
than United States money. The Bank of Lon- 
don and South America, in Mexico, issues notes 
which are current in the States of Mexico and 
Michoacan, and perhaps elsewhere, but not good 
in the State of Vera Cruz, although the bank 
officials assured us they were. Consequently 
we have this anomaly, which is characteristic 
of Mexico, that while the railway company of 
the Mexican Railway received these notes for 
fare at the Mexican end, they would not take 
them at all at the Vera Cruz terminus. The 
first-class fare, in an exceedingly roomy and 
comfortable coach — 263 miles in about four- 
teen hours — was sixteen dollars. In the train 
was a carload of soldiers in white cotton uni- 
form — a precaution against robbers which the 
government takes on no other railway in the 


republic. At every station, also, a guard of 
half a dozen soldiers appeared on the platform, 
saluting as the train drew up. On the higher 
table-land these guards were mounted, and in 
their fine appearance reminded one of the fa- 
mous Ouardias Civiles of Spain. 

The morning (February 26) was bright and 
a little cool ; the twin snow peaks sparkled 
crystal white in the clear air. The road runs 
in the Mexican basin north of Lake Tezcoco, 
through a region highly cultivated, bristling 
with cacti of grotesque forms, the fields 
marked by lines of the maguey plant, fre- 
quent adobe villages, with clusters of the 
stately organ cactus grouped about the huts, 
the whole plain full of the stir of agricultural 
life and movement. As we rose among the 
hills the clean maguey plant was more abun- 
dant, and at the first station on the plateau we 
were at the chief shipping point of the region 
for pulque. Scores of casks of it were waiting 
shipment. It is from this station that a con« 
siderable portion of the thousands and thou- 
sands of gallons daily needed to supply the 
wants of the city are sent. At this station de- 
scended several passengers — English, Ameri- 
can, and Mexican gentlemen, who had business 
at some hacienda, or were out for a day's shoot- 
ing. Among them was a tall, bulky Mexican, 


with gigantic frame and a baby face, who 
would have excited admiration anywhere. He 
wore an enormous hat, hung with at least a 
hundred dollars' worth of silver bullion, was 
armed with a revolver and a rifle, and had 
down each seam of his trousers a row of skulls 
and cross-bones in solid silver, each skull as big 
as a dollar. Everybody enjoyed the appear- 
ance of this splendid person, and no one more 
than he himself. 

At an elevation of some eight thousand feet 
we were running over a nearly level table-land, 
with high mountains in the distance — a plain 
brown and cheerless. A strong wind was blow- 
ing, and the dust was intolerable. Soon the 
country became more broken, but with the 
same aspect of winter barrenness, without a 
tree to relieve the prospect, and the landscape 
frightfully gashed and gullied by the heavy 
summer rains. After we passed Apizaco, 
whence a road branches oflE to Puebla, the 
long noble mountain of Malintzi came in view 
on the south, and before we reached San An- 
dreas the mass of Orizaba loomed up in the 
east over the dusty plain, two peaks, as seen 
from this point, the higher a long ragged mass, 
ever snow-clad, rising in majestic beauty be- 
tween six and seven thousand feet above the 
enormous elevation of this vast wind-swept 


plateau. From the uplands, from the coast, 
from the tropical valleys, from all points of 
view, this seems to be the prince of Mexican 

At Esperanza we stopped for mid-day break- 
fast — an excellent, civilized, well-served meal. 
Here the peach-trees were in full bloom. A 
little further on, at Boca del Monte, the road 
begins its rapid descent to the coast level. I 
doubt if any other railway in the world, cer- 
tainly none in Europe or North America, oSEers 
so many surprises to the traveler, or scenery so 
startling and noble in character. At Boca del 
Monte he looks down upon a wilderness of 
mountains. He is on a wide sterile plain in 
the temperate zone ; in two hours he will be 
hurled down in the warmth and luxuriance of 
a tropical vegetation. Below are mountains, 
precipices, deep valleys, clouds, mists, which 
part occasionally and show green fields through 
the rifts. The descent seems impossible. But 
the train moves on in long curves round the 
edge of the mountain, doubling on itself, pier- 
cing a promontory, clinging to the edge of a 
precipice, leaping by a slender bridge from one 
hill to another, running backward and forward, 
but always down, down, until the mountains, 
nobly wooded, begin to rise above us ; at one 
point we look sheer down the precipice upon 


the plain and town of Maltrato, 2000 feet be- 
low. At Bota, a picturesque station clinging 
to the precipice, there are crowds of women 
and maidens offering fruits of all sorts, and 
pulque, which is not good lower down. Before 
we know it we have dropped down to Maltrato, 
a little interval green with grain and trees, 
hemmed in completely by steep mountains, a 
thriving town with many spires, 1691 metres 
above the sea. 

From this little mountain plain we drop to 
a lower level, through a wonderful defile, nar- 
row, rocky, with a clear impeituous stream at 
the bottom; and as we go down there is not 
so much the sensation of sinking as that the 
mountains are rising around us. The level to 
which we come is the fertile plain of Orizaba, 
1227 metres above the sea. In the midst of it 
stands the handsome and highly civilized city 
of Orizaba — city and valley shut out from the 
world by immense mountain walls.. On this 
plain we ran into the clouds that we had seen 
from the heights above, and passing it, we 
went swiftly down a broad valley, all grain, 
grass, turf even, pasture-lands, meadows, luxu- 
riant cane fields, well watered and vernal, not 
unlike the valley of the Connecticut, except 
for the yucca and cacti and strange plants and 
flo\{ers» From this valley we dropped again 


down a narrow, rocky defile, passed through a 
tunnel, and came into a lower valley that leads 
to the city of Cordova, The whole of Mexico 
has this terrace character. It had rained a 
little at Cordova, and the vegetation showed a 
climate different from that on the west of the 
great mountain chain. All the east side of 
the mountains is liable in winter to ^^ north- 
ers," which bring lower temperature, clouds, 
and occasional rain, so that the whole State of 
Vera Cruz is less brown and sere in the dry 
season than the western uplands. At Cordova 
we were in a semi-tropical region, 827 metres 
(about 2600 English feet) above the sea ; we 
had dropped from winter into summer. On 
either side spread acres and acres of bananas, 
wide coffee plantations, agaves and pines, and 
brilliant flowering shrubs ; one, the tulipan,. as 
large as a peach-tree, with splendid scarlet 
flowers like the tiger -lily. At the station, 
pineapples and oranges in heaps were for sale. 
As we went down through the foot-hills, pass- 
ing a finer gorge than any above, with a lovely 
water-fall, the foliage became more and more 
tropical; big-leaved plants grew rank along 
the way, and enormous convolvuli adorned the 
trees and hedges. 

It was eight o'clock when we reached the 
absolute sea -level and Vera Cruz, and were 


driven in a rickety carriage through a broad 
business street of two-story houses to the Hotel 
Diligencia, on the little plaza. The hotel, oyer 
the first story of shops, is entered by broad 
stone stairs in the inner court, and is itself an 
open hall about a court, the hall serving as 
assembly-room and dining-room, the chambers 
opening out from it. All the floors are brick. 
The rooms on the plaza front have balconies, 
and are primitively furnished, though comfort- 
able enough, the beds being well protected by 
mosquito -netting. Rooms, furniture, attend- 
ance, all bespeak the negligence of a warm 
climate ; it is, in short, a thoroughly Spanish- 
Mexican inn, and the table sustains its reputa- 

Vera Cruz has a bad repute, and I suppose 
that, travestying the remark about Naples, I 
am expected to exclaim, *^ Smell Vera Cruz and 
die." But I found the little city of ten thou- 
sand people rather agreeable. It is, to be sure, 
when you are in it, an uninteresting city of 
two-story buildings of coral limestone, right- 
angled streets, perfectly flat, built on marshy 
ground, and the gutters are open and unsightly. 
The sidewalk crossings of the principal streets 
are peculiar; they are small bridges thrown 
over the gutters, but instead of being on the 
line of the sidewalk, they are set back in the 


side street, so that the heedless pedestrian is 
likely at any moment to step into the ditch. 
But the houses are solid ; many of them have 
pretty courts, and arcaded fronts are frequent. 
Shabby or elegant, it is thoroughly foreign and 
picturesque. By daylight it is shabby. The 
most pleasing view of the town is from the sea, 
with the castle of San Juan de Ulua in the 
foreground, and the water-line of arcaded build- 
ings, with the towers and cathedral dome, 
behind. But the view of the blue Gulf, with 
its islands and sails, from the long pier, is as 
lovely as that from almost any Mediterranean 
port. The air was delicious, mild and yet not 
enervating. With the sea on one side and the 
mountains so near on the other. Vera Cruz 
ought, with a little engineering skill for drain- 
age, to be perfectly healthful. But no summer 
passes without sporadic cases of yellow fever, 
and once in three years it is epidemic. To my 
senses the climate was most agreeable, and it 
was luxury to breathe the air after the thin 
atmosphere of the table-land. Indeed, I met 
many foreigners who were charmed with Vera 
Cruz. I know Americans who go there with- 
out fear in the summer, for the bathing, and 
find their stay most agreeable. 

The scene on the plaza, which was brilliantly 
illuminated with both gas and the electric 


lights, was exceedingly gay. The strong light 
brought into relief the cathedral dome and 
spires, the arcaded shops, and masses of shrubs 
and flowering plants, and the swaying arms of 
the whispering palms. It is thronged with 
promenaders, with loafers, with children, with 
ladies in fashionable attire, with officers and 
soldiers and servants — a thoroughly democratic 
assembly. The cool evening is the time for 
enjoyment and recreation, and everybody was 
out-of-doors ; ladies in light muslins, armed 
only with the fan, went round and round arm 
in arm, chatting and laughing, never the sexes 
mingling in the tread-mill of the promenade, 
except in case of family groups ; children, small 
girls and boys too young to be out without 
their nurses, were jumping the rope and play- 
ing other noisy games in a part of the plaza till 
after nine o'clock ; men of the lower orders 
lounged about clad only in under-shirts and 
drawers, or their cotton trousers that had the 
eflfect of drawers; the clerks in the shops, 
dressed in the same summer style, and invari- 
ably with a cigar in the mouth, waited on their 
customers in languid indifference. All the wine 
shops and saloons were open and thriving; 
small tables encumbered the sidewalks, where 
the citizens sat in cool costume sipping mild 
potations. Everybody had the free and easy 


air which is always begotten by confidence in 
steady good weather. The prominent impres- 
sion, however, was of the mixed, mongrel race, 
a population lacking stamina, with Central 
American morals and Cuban inertia. 

We were called at four o'clock of a foggy 
morning for the five-o'clock train to Jalapa; 
This journey is unique, for the whole distance 
of seventy miles is by tramway, except the first 
sixteen, to Paso de San Juan, on the Mexican 
Railway. After a cup of coffee in a cheap cafe 
by the station, I went to buy my tickets. The 
agent peremptorily refused to take the Bank of 
London notes, even at a discount. My servant 
expostulated with all the officials of the place. 
We could not think of remaining over in Vera 
Cruz another whole dav. No exchange shops 
were open. Our money was perfectly good. 
Why then subject travelers to such annoyance ? 
But it was no use to remonstrate, the officials 
were more than inexorable, they were indiffer- 
ent; the train was just starting. I happened 
to remember that I had in my pocket a note of 
introduction to Colonel Thrailkill, the super- 
intendent of the Jalapa road. I produced it. 
No one could read it, and for all they knew it 
might have been my hotel bill, but it sufficed. 
With a good nature as unreasonable as the 
former indifference, we were told to go abokrd, 
and pay when we found the superintendent. 


At San Juan tbe tram-cars were waiting, 
two, a first and a second class, each with four 
mules. Our car was very comfortable, roomy, 
with broad leather-cushioned seats, open at the 
sides, with a canopy to keep off the sun. At 
the signal the mules were let go, and they 
started on a run ; they had their ten miles to 
make, and seemed bound to do it at. a spurt. 
The country was at first level, the track good, 
but the car swung and swerved at the rapid 
pace, and our motion created a strong breeze ; 
the fog was lifting, disclosing a luxuriant v^e- 
tation, palms, cacti, and large sycamore-trees, 
in form and color like our button-ball. The 
buzzards were still roosting in the trees, but 
the convolvuli were opening, and new bird 
notes were heard in the thickets. Everything 
was strange, exotic. Every moment a new 
object for exclamation. A handsome brilliant 
bird, as large as a hawk, with a long tail, darted 
from tree to tree with a harsh cry ; it was the 
papey, a fleshless, useless bird ; equally value- 
less was the coracoracaa, a smaller bird, like 
the pheasant ; there was also the calandra, bril- 
liant yellow ; but most interesting of all the 
prima vera, a brown warbler, the bird of 
spring. Here and there, by the track, the Te 
del campo, a large lizard, hastened to get out of 
the way. 


For we went thundering on, regardless of 
beaBt or bird. The mules have more vim and 
malicious energy than the steam-engine. Here 
and there a poor plantation was passed, and 
the house was invariably an open-work struc- 
ture of cane, with a heavily thatched roof. 

This is the old national road, the route of 
General Scott to the city of Mexico, following 
most of the way the ancient Spanish highway, 
often paved, and with substantial bridges. The 
old Spaniards had energy, and built roads and 
churches ; the Mexicans have let them decay. 

When the fog cleared, the sky was deep blue, 
and the air delicious. The peak of Orizaba 
appeared a white mass in the blue horizon, the 
base hidden by mountain ranges. The Puente 
Nacional is a fine, picturesque Spanish bridge 
with parapets, and here is a collection of mean 
adobe houses, and near them, in a thicket of 
cacti, the white palace of Santa Anna, falling 
to ruins. Here he had a considerable planta- 
tion. We passed in sight also of the battle-field 
of Cerro Gordo — a cheerless region. The vil- 
lages on the line are much alike — usually 
one shabby street — with a mongrel population. 
The most curious shops are the butchers' ; the 
meat hangs before the door in long strips, is 
usually black, and sold by the foot. At Rin- 
conada, where we met the down train, we 


stopped an hour for breakfast — a very pala- 
table meal, with Mexican dishes, that are not 
bad, if you can make up your mind to them, 
especially the garnachas, compounded of maize, 
chopped meat, cheese, chiles, tomatoes, and 
onions. It is as good as the famous enchilada, 
which is chopped meat, raisins, almonds, and 
other condiments rolled inside of a tortilla. 
The passengers whom we met were covered with 
dust, and we were in the same state. The road 
had begun to ascend rapidly, and there were 
long stretches where we dragged slowly up the 
grades, in sun and dust, with only occasionally 
the exhilaration of a dash down -hill. The 
views became finer — great sweeps of rounded 
hills, with few trees, and mountains in the 
distance. Occasionally a hacienda was seen 
perched on a hill, or the square tower of an old 
church, but for the most part the country was 
monotonous in its winter barrenness. Still it 
was all novel, and our interest in the • drive 
scarcely flagged when, at six o'clock, we gal- 
loped through the paved streets of Jalapa, and 
knew that we were 4000 feet above the sea. 

Jalapa, the capital of the State of Vera Cruz, 
and the residence of the Governor, is an ex- 
ceedingly interesting and pretty city, well 
paved, solidly built, picturesquely situated on 
the foot-hills, and surrounded by giant moun- 


tains. The region is fertile, and it is just the 
right elevation for a delightful summer and 
winter climate. The views from the neighbor- 
ing hills of the town, the uneven landscape, the 
semi-tropical vegetation, the snow mountains, 
are of almost incomparable beauty. The town 
itself, though the streets are winding, and 
many of them steep, and the houses have no 
great architectural pretensions, is clean, thrifty, 
and has a highly civilized aspect. There are 
many fine, substantial residences, which make 
no exterior show, but have lovely interior 
courts adorned with flowers, and vocal with 
fountains and the singing of birds. The rich 
interiors are evidence of wealth and refinement. 
The cathedral, a noble, handsome building, 
stands on a pretty plaza, but its situation on 
the side of a slope gives a unique effect to the 
interior. The floor, which is beautifully paved 
with tiles, slopes up to the altar at a decided 
angle, so that the worshiper, in advancing to 
the apse, has a sense of '^ going up to the house 
of the Lord." From the end of the street on 
which it stands, and indeed from other streets, 
there are charming vistas of the country, a 
country tropical in its foliage, and always with 
the background of purple mountains and snow 
domes. The noble Orizaba is the chief attrac- 
tion, but the long range of the nearer Cofre de 


Perote, which bars the way to the west, tawny 
and full of color, may be fairly termed magnifi- 
cent. Its sharp ridges, 14,000 feet above the 
sea, are just low enough to escape the crown of 
perpetual snow. 

The great market-place on Sunday morning 
presented a very animated spectacle. In the 
centre of the square, surrounded by arcaded 
buildings, is the market itself, a structure of 
pillars and roof: but the traffic was not con- 
fined to it. The whole plaza and all the sur- 
rounding corridors and the side streets were 
covered with goods, merchandise of all sorts, 
fruits, vegetables, pottery, and swarmed with 
buyers and sellers. This is the day when the 
'Indians from the mountain villages come in 
with their grain, tortillas, preserves, basket- 
work, pottery, and "truck," and we saw here 
specimens of three or four tribes who adhere 
to their own dialects, and speak Spanish not 
at all, or very reluctantly. The Mexican men 
wore usually white trousers and white shirts, 
with perhaps a gay serape flung over the shoul- 
ders. The women, in plain frocks and the in- 
variable ribosas, add little in the way of color 
to the scene, and almost nothing of beauty. 
They are not pretty ; but so productive I Chil- 
dren swarmed. And the sad pity of it, to 
think that they will all grow up and become 


Mexicans I There was a circus in town, and 
the members of it were making an advertising 
parade, riding about through the dense crowd, 
bespangled, brazen women and harlequin men, 
greeted with shouts and laughter. There is 
certainly nothing gloomy about Sunday in Ja- 

We breakfasted with Colonel Thrailkill, the 
superintendent of the Jalapa road. The table 
was set in a veranda opening upon a pretty 
garden. Our host is a bird-fancier ; but most 
residents in Mexico fall into this fancy, for in 
no other land are there birds of more delicious 
song and exquisite plumage. In shops, in house 
courts, in hotels, in bath-houses, everywhere 
one hears the music of caged birds. Dozens 
of cages hung about the veranda and in the 
garden, an unrivaled aviary of color and song. 
There were many brilliant small birds, but the 
favorite for its song — indeed, the queen of all 
Mexican singing birds — is the clarin. This is 
a shapely brown bird, in size and form not un- 
like the hermit-thrush, but its long, liquid, full- 
throated note is more sweet and thrilling than 
any other bird note I have ever heard; it is 
hardly a song or a tune, but a flood of melody, 
elevating, inspiring as the skylark, but with a 
touch of the tender melancholy of the nightin- 
gale in the night. 


There was one of tbese birds filling the court 
with melody when I went to take a bath in Ja- 
lapa. Mexico has one evidence of civilization 
that some other civilized countries lack. In 
every' city, in nearly every town, there are 
attractive bath-houses. However mean the 
town may be otherwise, the public bath-house 
is pretty sure to be neat and attractive, and is 
often highly ornamental and luxurious. There 
are bathing places of various degrees of cost, 
some plunges and pools where the populace 
can take a dip for a tlaco (about a cent and a 
half), and others more exclusive, where the 
common charge for hot and cold water, linen, 
soap, rubbing fibre, and oil is twenty-five cents. 
There is an inner court, luxuriant and beau- 
tiful with flowers and tropical foliage, sur- 
rounded by galleries in two stories, in the 
arches of which stand hundreds of the red 
flower-pots of the country brilliant with gay 
flowers. A fountain splashes in the centre, 
and caged birds, fluttering in the sunlight, 
sing, and add the element of gayety to the 
pretty scene. The bathing-rooms, opening on 
the gallery, are primitive, but clean ; and if 
they were ruder than they are, the bather has 
so many senses gratified that in this respect at 
least he is willing to confess that the Mexicans 
excel us in civilization and refinement. At 


Coaatla I saw a snbstitate for the Tarkish 
bath, used sometimes also by oar northern In- 
dians. This was a stone stractnre, somewhere 
in the shade of the hoose enclosure, in shape 
like a long, low oven, with an opening in front 
large enough for a person to crawl in. In the 
interior are placed hot stones, water is poured 
upon these till the oven is full of steam, and 
then the patient crawls in, closes the aperture, 
and takes his steam bath. 

From Jalapa the tramway extends nine 
miles southwest to Coatepec, which lies 500 
feet lower than the capital, and enjoys a some- 
what warmer climate. I went down there and 
spent some days with American and English 
friends who are engaged in coffee planting and 
in the preparation of the berry for the market. 
Coatepec is a typical Mexican town of the bet- 
ter sort, where nobody is very rich and nobody 
very poor. It is quite withdrawn from the 
world and its excitements — has no newspa- 
pers, no news, no agitations. The houses are 
mostly of one story, the streets are broad, well 
paved, and clean, and the country about is well 
cultivated. With the exception of the family 
with whom I stayed, and a Belgian who has 
lived there many years, I believe there are no 
foreigners. *' Society " can hardly be said to 
exist, but a club had recently been formed; in 


the bare rooms it occupied there were neither 
newspapers, books, nor any of the common 
ps^raphernalia of club life. So far as I could 
judge, the Mexicans here, who are of the ordi- 
nary yellow variety, have little intellectual life 
or ambition, or knowledge of the world. The 
chief occupation is co£Eee raising ; all about the 
town are large and small plantations of it, in- 
termingled with the banana and the plantain. 
The coffee-trees are seen in all the town gar- 
dens; and at this deason, in the streets and 
court-yards, the coffee berry spread on mats 
was everywnere seen drying in the sun. 

The house where I stayed, perhaps the most 
commodious in the place, is worth a line of de- 
scription as typical of the better sort in Mex- 
ico. On the street it has a solid two-story 
front, with windows of glass, and is buiUf 
around three sides of a very pretty court, 
which has a fountain, tropical plants and flow- 
ers, and singing birds in cages. Most of the 
houses have no glass, and the window open- 
ings, which close with inner shutters, are pro- 
tected with bars of iron or wood, Spanish fash- 
ion, and the inmates have the appearance of 
being imprisoned. A gallery runs round the 
inner second story of the house I speak of, and 
is a most agreeable lounging - place day and 
evening. Here are books, music, the latest 


English and American newspapers. In the 
sitting-room is a Stein way grand, which in 
this equable climate always keeps in tone. 
Every evening when there is music there is 
an orderly crowd in the street below. From 
this gallery is one of the most lovely prospects. 
One looks over the court and the garden be- 
yond, over the huddled brown roofs of the 
town, the cathedral towers, the tall trees of the 
plaza with its arcaded buildings, over the rising 
nearest foot-hills and their semi-tropical vege- 
tation, to the vast ridge of the Cofre de Perote, 
purple against the sky. Almost every feature 
of the landscape is Italian, and the view is won- 
derfully like that from the Villa Nardi in Sor- 
rento of the gardens and amphitheatre of hills. 
£ut in one respect it far surpasses the famous 
Italian landscape. For there to the left rises 
in the blue sky the great dome of Orizaba, pure 
white, stainless, towering up like a cloud, its 
purity glowing in the rosy light of morning, or 
taking on a purple hue at evening. The place 
has altogether an air of repose, of stability, of 
softness, an indescribable charm. 

This region is a paradise for the naturalist as 
well as the sight-seer. I could see, but cannot 
describe, hundreds of novel wild flowers and 
plants — plants aromatic, plants and vines with 
strange and brilliant blooms, tree-ferns, and all 


sorts of feathery and graceful growths. My 
friend had a collection of butterflies and moths 
dazzling to the eyes of a novice, but of still 
more interest to the student; his explorations 
of the hills have discovered many species hith- 
erto unknown to science. 

Not only the naturalist, but the ordinaiy 
traveler, would find much that is interesting in 
exploring these mountains. In their recesses 
are villages that retain all the simplicity of 
primitive communities. I have some coins 
from one oj them, Las Vegas, which reveal 
this. The subsidiary coinage in Mexico is in a 
very bad way. Much of it is local, and all of it 
is worn and defaced beyond recognition. Yet 
when the government attempted some years 
ago to call it in and substitute something else, 
the popular discontent was so great that it was 
obliged to desist. The commonest popular coin 
is the ilaco^ usually a big round piece of copper 
worn perfectly smooth. Its current value is a 
little over a cent and a half. Two tlacos make 
a cuartilla ; two cuartillas make a medio ; two 
medios make a real ; and two reals make twen- 
ty-five cents. The inhabitants of Las Vegas, 
being short of the small circulating medium, 
manufacture their own, which is taken and 
given in all purchases. One of the Las Vegas 
" coins " that I have is a small square piece of 


soap, stamped with the value. The others are 
a square and a circular block of wood, over an 
inch in diameter, rudely whittled out, but 
stamped with name and value. Each of these 
passes for a tlaco. This seems to be an ideal 
sort of money ; any one can have as much ad 
he can make, and it has two advantages, — the 
wood will last, and the soap will redeem itself 
in time. 

It is an unexciting life that one would lead at 
Coatepec amid all this natural beauty. Even 
the jail, which stands on one side of the plaza, 
has a friendly aspect. It is a two-story edifice, 
with pillars supporting the upper gallery. In 
the upper story is a rude hospital. The lower 
story consists of one long, obscure room, with 
a floor of earth, in which all the prisoners are 
huddled together. The guards pace the corri- 
dor outside, and watch the inmates through the 
grated windows. Prison reform has not yet 
reached Mexico. 

There is one person in Coatepec who has 
ideas and tastes above his fellows. This is an 
honest carpenter, who is the antiquarian of the 
region. In his little stone cottage, overrun and 
half hidden by vegetation, he has collected 
Indian relics, stone idols and images, a few 
manuscripts and books, and a great variety of 
natural curiosities. The house stands on the 


slope of a pure and pretty stream that runs 
through the Tillage, and here he has laid out a 
garden that is unique. It is a miniature mu- 
seum out-of-doors, planted with tropical shrubs 
and flowers, intersected with winding walks, 
along which stand Indian idols and fragments 
of antique sculpture, leading to quaint grottoes, 
payed and set with old tiles, bits of glass, and 
odd pieces of plate. The whole effect is fan- 
tastic and curious. This carpenter is an artist 
as well as antiquarian. A little while before 
my visit he l)^d the misfortune to lose his 
third wife. A few days after he brought to 
my friend a skull and cross-bones, " life " size, 
beautifully carved in wood — perfect imitation 
of these emblems of mortality. The carving 
of these mementos was his grim way of taking 
consolation in his bereavement. 

The country about Coatepec might well de- 
tain the traveler for weeks in agreeable excur- 
sions. The only drawback to riding is that all 
the roads are paved with round stones — at 
least all the roads connecting the principal vil- 
lages. This is no doubt necessary in the rainy 
season, but it makes rough traveling. We rode 
one day over the rolling land, up hill and down, 
half a dozen miles to see the barranca of Te- 
calo. This is one of the minor barrancas, but 
it gives a good idea of these peculiar forma- 


tions. A barranca is of the nature of a cafion ; 
that is to say, it is a deep gorge, abruptly sink- 
ing below the level of the surrounding country, 
and has a stream at the bottom. 

We had no sign of the barranca of Tecalo 
until we stood upon its brink, and looked down 
the rugged chasm a thousand feet. It is not a 
straight cut in the land, but winding, as if the 
stream had made it by slow process and irregu- 
lar flowing, but its rocky sides are nearly per- 
pendicular. We made our way by a zigzag 
path down one of the faces ig the bottom, 
where we found a substantial bridge and a 
clear, rapid stream. Looking up the walls on 
either side we had a vision of wild and exqui- 
site beauty. The sky was a narrow strip above. 
The walls of rock that shut us in were com- 
pletely clad with vegetation, luxuriant, and 
wonderful in color. I know nothing to com- 
pare with it except the Latomia of Syracuse, 
in Sicily. Every foot of the precipices was 
covered with creepers, hanging vines, ferns ex- 
quisite in fineness, a mass of green and gray, 
in which gleamed flowers of scarlet and of a 
dozen bright hues, and here and there from 
ledges hung vegetable cables, ropes swinging 
freely in the air, with flowering plants at the 
end, like baskets let down. As we ascended 
from this bewildering vale of beauty, there 


was great Orizaba hanging like a thunder- 
head in the sky. 

Coatepec, Jalapa, all the eastern slope of the 
great mountains have a delightful winter cli* 
mate, warmer than the Mexican table-lands by 
reason of the lower altitude, but, as I have 
said, not so arid, for the " northers " bring oc- 
casionally clouds and a damp atmosphere, 
which freshens the vegetation a little. 

The return down the tramway from Jalapa 
to Vera Cruz was more rapid than the ascent 
' — three hour*' shorter in time, and exciting and 
exhilarating. Whirling down this strange land 
in an open car, with the mules at a gallop, every 
mile offering some novel sight, is, I fancy, a 
unique experience in travfel. It was half past 
four when we came to Vera Cruz, and we had 
time before nightfall to satisfy all our curiosity 
about the city. It cannot be said to improve 
much on acquaintance, but the sea view from 
the end of the long stone pier is very fine, with 
the old Castle, and the sailboats and steamers 
in the harbor. The town also is picturesque 
from this point, with its church domes and tow- 
ers and the arcaded and balconied houses on the 
shore, painted in blue, red, yellow, and green, 
all faded into harmonious tones. Again we 
were reminded of Italy. 

At sunset hundreds of buzzards came to 


roost on the cornices of the plaza buildings, 
and the great dome of the cathedral was liter- 
ally black with them. Gas and electric light 
again blazed, and the ceaseless promenading 
and animation of street life began. Children 
swarm, ladies in light muslins come out to en- 
joy the night air, men in white, and as thinly 
clad as possible, lounge listlessly about. The 
more we see of the people, the more inferior 
they seem — an easy-going, poor, mixed race. 

We were up at five for the train. The night 
had been hot; with the long windows open on 
the plaza and sea side, there was not a breath 
of air — even a sheet was a burden. Till late 
at night there was noise and gabble in the 
streets, bells were cSiming, and the big bell of 
the cathedral booming the hours. In the early 
morning the streets were almost deserted, here 
and there a cargador in white, or a woman, too 
early or too late, shuflBed along the pavement. 
The big buzzards on the cathedral dome were 
beginning to stir in the early light, birds were 
singing among the whispering palms o{ the 
plaza, and paroquets called and screamed af- 
ter us. 

The road skirts the city and then runs 
straight to the foot-hills over a plain uninter- 
esting except from the always picturesque 
palms. But at Cordova, a busy, pretty town 


among the mountains, and overlooked by 
Mount Oriz3,ba, the vegetation is very rich, 
the air is sweet with orange blossoms, the foli- 
age is dark, the red cofiEee berries gleam in the 
banana plantations, the palm, the yucoa, the 
cacti add to the tropical character of the pic- 
ture, and brilliant flowers and rampant vines 
lighten and drape the landscape in color and 
grace. From here to Orizaba the scenery ap- 
peared more grand than in the descent, the 
mountains serrated, sharp peaks, blue and 
lovely in the distance, standing in a jumble, 
and the snow peak, above them always wonder- 
ful. We drag up through the lovely gorge 
with the pretty waterfall, make the circle of 
the great loop in the road, cross a high bridge, 
pass though several tunnels, and are in the 
shut-in plain of Orizaba. No description can 
do justice to this wonderful road. 

Orizaba, which is about 4000 feet above the 
sea, is a favorite winter resort, but it is too 
warm in summer for those accustomed to the 
air of the table-land. It is, however, a bene- 
ficial change for many, from the very rare air 
of the city of Mexico. The city itself is very 
well built, has a big and varied market, and an 
alameda as fine as any in the republic, with 
splendid trees and charming allSea^ and is 
bounded on one side by a swift stream, which 


sweeps the base of a precipitous mountain walL 
This situation adds nobility to its loveliness. 
From my window and balcony at the Hotel La 
Borda I looked up a clear, rapid stream in a 
green, setting of foliage, with white houses and 
gardens beyond, a white spire, and a vast back- 
ground of mountains, the shoulder of Orizaba 
visible, but not its snow. The snow peak is 
not in sight from the central part of the city 
itself. Orizaba is interesting for a few days' 
sojourn, and pleasant excursions may be made 
from it into the hills and the lateral valleys, 
but it is too much shut in for my taste. 

It is a fairly enlightened and well governed 
city, and has very good schools, where English 
is taught, after a fashion, and on which the a1> 
tendance is, I believe, compulsory. While I 
was there, a German, whose knowledge of Eng- 
lish was very limited, was holding, by the aid 
of the government, a normal school, to teach 
teachers how to teach English and German, 
and he had some eighty-five pupils, old and 
young,, from the various towns in the State of 
Vera Cruz. 

In traveling here and elsewhere in Mexico, 
an American is struck with the little deference 
paid to women. No matter who is present, 
everybody smokes, at the table, in the cars, 
even those of the first class, in the horse-cars, 


everywhere, there is no escape from the smoke. 
But, then, most of the Mexican women smoke 

It was now the fifth of March, and signs of 
spring multiplied; as we ascended the moun- 
tains the young foliage was almost as bright in 
hue as ours is in autumn. This drapery of 
color was very pleasing. We could imagine 
what Mexico would be in its renewed vegeta- 
tion. The train moved slowly up the slopes, 
conquering the height foot by foot. The val- 
leys deepened, the mountains sunk. When 
we reached the summit at Boca del Monte, it 
seemed as if we must have climbed to the top 
of the world. But lo ! there in the sky was 
the white dome of Orizaba, apparently just as 
high above us as ever. 


^ A BEANCH of the Mexican National Rail- 

way (which is all narrow guage) runs west 
from the city over the mountains to Toluca, 
thence turns northwest to Acambaro; at this 
station a branch runs southwest to Morelia and 
Patzcuaro ; the main line continues northward, 
crosses the Mexican Central -at Gelaya, and 
goes on to San Miguel de AUende. From this 
point it is expected to continue through San 
Luis Potosi to Saltillo, completing the connec- 
tion with the north. When this gap of 350 
miles is spanned, there will be an all-rail route 
from San Antonio to the city of Mexico, and 
the railway distance between the two cities will 
be shortened by some 800 miles. 

The road out of the Mexican basin followed 
the winding narrow valley of a pretty stream, 
offering at first pleasing and then grand views, 
until at the station of Salazar it reaches the 
summit and an altitude of 10,027 feet. At 
this station it is always cool, there is a frost 
every night in the year, and the passengers 
who got out for a glass of pulque or a cup 


of coffee and a tortilla were cheered by the 
warmth of a stove in the agent's shanty. This 
was the former diligence route, and this moon- 
tain region was the scene only three or four 
years ago of numerous robberies and murders. 
The diligence was certain to be attacked if it 
carried passengers who were suspected of hav- 
ing valuables. The robbers in all cases were 
the Mexican citizens of the neighboring vil- 
lages, and never the Indians. These Mexicans, 
who seem to have been sustained by public 
opinion, simply varied the monotony of their 
ordinary occupations by highway robbery. If 
there were any political disturbance, throwing 
the administration into confusion, these good 
people would undoubtedly take to the road 
again. Here, as elsewhere in the republic, the 
more trustworthy part of the population are 
Indians and not the hybrids. 

From the summit the descent was rapid. 
Twilights are brief in this latitude, and it was 
dusk at a little after seven (we had left Mexico 
at five), when we came to the station in the 
plain of Toluca, and took the tram-cars for the 
city, distant a mile and a half. Toluca, one of 
the most beautifully situated and pleasing cities 
in Mexico, is seated on gentle hills rising out 
of an extensive and fertile plain, and is about 
8500 feet above the sea. 


We were set down at the hotel Lion de Ore, 
as the decorated sign which the French proprie- 
tor has brought with him testified. This hotel, 
which is of two stories, built .about a court, 
with spacious rooms, prepossessed us in favor of 
the city, for it is neat and comfortable, and by 
far the best and cleanest hotel we found in the 

The following morning was splendid, the air 
elastic, inspiring. I do not know which most 
to admire, the view of the town from a neigh- 
boring hill, or the view of the lovely valley and 
its guardian mountains from the terrace. The 
snow mountain of Toluca, whence the runners 
in the old Spanish days and the runners now 
bring the snow for cooling drinks, is a beauti- 
ful object in this clear atmosphere. The city 
is well paved and substantially built, has some 
fine old churches and towers, and is not only 
the cleanest city in Mexico, but is cleaner than 
any city in the United States. One of the 
small features of the place that attracted at- 
tention was queer frames, skeleton structures, 
like the electric light stands, with small tanks 
on top. One of these stood in the Governor's 
garden next door to the hotel. The frame was 
sixty or seventy feet high and gayly painted ; 
on top was a platform with a gay railing sup- 
porting the tank, and this was surmounted by 


a pagoda canopy, also brilliatitly painted, and 
ornamented with images of large gilded but- 
terflies on each comer. These things are the 
fashion here, and there is a strife between the 
wealthy citizens to have the highest and gau- 
diest. Water is pumped into the tanks, and we 
were told that they are used as shower-baths. 

The town has a small plaza prettily planted, 
with two fountains and an abundance of flow- 
ers ; at this season it was carpeted with violets 
and daisies. One of the most interesting pieces 
of architecture is a chapel attached to one of 
the ancient churches, which has a dome cov- 
ered with colored mosaics very Oriental in 
character. The market hall is a large, long 
building, with the roof supported on heavy 
Egyptian columns, painted in high colors — an- 
other of the many Oriental suggestions in Mex- 
ico. In the arcades about the market square 
are many little eating and drinking shops. 
The place on Sunday morning was crowded 
with traffickers, and the objects for sale were 
spread all about — fruits, meats, vegetables, 
all sorts of merchandise, coarse and brilliantly 
painted pottery, rope like the Manila, made 
from the maguey, and pretty basket-work and 
mats. Large numbers of Indians had come in 
from the mountain villages. They were usu- 
ally short, thick-chested, and heavy-limbed, and 


with black coarse hair and broad faces and high 
cheek-bones — very Indian in appearance. The 
women were clad in two pieces of blue cloth, 
wrapped about the body so as to leave the arms 
and legs free and the breasts convenient to the 
calls of their offspring. Every woman was nurs- 
ing a baby, and even the little girls commonly 
had charge of a more helpless specimen of their 
race. I suppose that these aborigines are sub- 
stantially what they were when Cortez con- 
quered the country, with the same native vigor 
and inferior semi-barbarous aspect, with their 
habits perhaps a little modified by a pseudo- 

In the afternoon, an unusual thing for the sea- 
son, there was a brief thunder-shower with hail, 
with loose high-sailing clouds and fine effects of 
shadows on the plain. We saw the sun set 
from a sharp hill overlooking the town, where 
there are the earthworks of what may have 
been a fort. The prospect was superb, one of 
the rare views of the world, over the flat-roofed 
town out upon the vast green plain, the moun- 
tains lovely in the slant light, and the peak of 
Toluca rosy. The notable and surprising thing, 
however, was the high and careful culture. The 
plain was like a garden, the only lines of de- 
marcation being rows of the maguey plant. 
We had not expected such careful agriculture 


in Mexico. The great squares of brown earth, 
ready for the seed or newly sown, were tilled 
as finely as garden mould, and alternated pleas- 
ingly with the vast patches of green wheat and- 
barley. We were told that the weeds in the 
wheat fields are pulled up by hand, and the 
whole country gave eyidence of this minute 
personal cultivation. The e£Eect of this high 
culture was to give a very refined landscape. 
The view was very extensive, and grew more 
and more attractive with the light on the 
church towers land the round hills in the val- 
ley ; and when at last a rainbow spanned the 
plain, over which thin mists were trailing, the 
prospect was nothing less than enchanting. 
This \b one of the richest valleys in the repub- 
lic. It produces a winter crop by irrigation, 
and a summer crop in the rainy season. 

The patience of the traveler is tried in two 
ways on the railway to Morelia — by the un- 
comfortable cars with small windows, from 
which it is difficult to see anything, and the 
time consumed. We were twelve and a half 
hours in going about two hundred miles. After 
emerging from the fertile plain of Toluca we 
ascended into a broken country, the road rising 
and falling among the hills with many a long 
loop and curve. Many of these* curves were 
unnecessary feats of engineering, laid out when 


the builders expected the promised bonus of 
ten thousand dollars a mile ; the carves are 
now being reduced, and the road shortened 
proportionally. The view was interesting, and 
often wide and glorious, the mountains fine in 
form, and the valleys irrigated, green, and 
lovely. Even the uncultivated spaces were 
covered with wild growth, among them a very 
sweet-scented acacia-bush with bright yellow 
flowers. We breakfasted at Flor de Maria, a 
neat station with a good table, and took coffee 
at four o'clock at Acambaro in a station-shanty 
kept by Mexican Jim, who has the reputation 
among foreigners of being probably the most 
honest Mexican now living. He was for many 
years the trusted body-servant of General Mc- 
Clellan during his Northwestern explorations. 
Toward evening we ran along the shore of 
Lake Cuitzco, a large body of water, contain- 
ing many islands, and surrounded by noble 
mountains graceful in forna. It seemed to me 
more beautiful than Lake George or Lake 
Winnipiseogee ; but perhaps the luminous 
warm atmosphere enhanced its beauty, for 
Mexico certainly has this advantage over our 
Northern landscapes in an atmosphere full of 
color, which drapes hills and valleys like a 
delicate garnaent, as in southern Italy and Sic- 
ily. We came to the Morelia station after 


dark, and took the horse-railway to the town 
and the hotel Michoacan. 

Morelia, the present capital of the State of 
Michoacan, is a city of, I should think, fifty 
thousand to sixty thousand inhabitants, bright, 
cheerful, well built, surrounded by a lovely 
hilly country, and at an elevation of about 
fifty-five hundred feet. I am conscious that I 
am open to the charge of enthusiasm in general 
expressions of admiration for this charming and 
interesting city, and I have hardly space in this 
paper for details to make good my partiality. 
It is unnecessary to go elsewhere for a more 
delicious climate than we found there in the 
month of March. The charm of the air is in- 
describable, so fresh, so balmy, so full of life, 
days of strong, genial sun, nights of mild seren- 
ity, so dry and temperate that we sat in the 
public square at midnight without need of a 

The night of our arrival the town seemed to 
be en fete. The large Zocolo, or principal 
plaza, prettily laid out in flower beds and wind- 
ing walks and fine trees, seats and music stands, 
with several fountains, was gayly illuminated 
with Chinese lanterns and thronged with prom- 
enaders. In the streets and open spaces were 
erected hundreds of stands for the sale of 
sweets and native edibles, lighted by flaming 


torches, which threw a fantastic light upon the 
strange groups about them. These street ven- 
ders are always to be seen at night cooking 
their indescribable " messes " in the open air, 
and many of the inhabitants seem to take their 
suppers regularly at these cheap stands. In 
the pagoda a fine military band was playing 
the music of Beethoven and Wagner. It was 
the famous band of the Eighth Regiment, the 
nucleus of that great orchestra which made 
such a musical sensation at the New Orleans 
Exposition, The air was sweet with the odor 
of the night-blooming jasmine. In respect of 
its music, its gardens, cultivation of flowers, 
and its simple architecture, Morelia shows a 
high degree of civilization. 

I shall speak of some of the peculiar features 
of the place without any attempt at exhaustive 
or systematic description. The hotel accom- 
modation is inadequate, and the restaurant fre- 
quented by strangers is third class. The new 
hotel, slowly rising room by room, on the plaza, 
promises to change all tUis. The cathedral has 
massive towers and great domes, and although 
of the Spanish composite order of architecture, 
is a noble building, the finest in Mexico. In 
full moonlight, or in the rosy light of sunset, it 
is wonderfully beautiful. In the large tower 
hangs the monster bell, which is rarely sounded. 



but there are many others of moderate size 
which are continually chiming. All these bells, 
and indeed nearly all the bells in the republic, 
are remarkai)le for sweetness and softness of 
tone. It is very rarely that one hears a harsh 
bell. They are exceedingly melodious and 
pleasing. It is sometimes ' explained that this 
is due to the mixturie of silver in the bell-metal, 
and that the new bells are cast from old metal. 
I believe that the chief reason why the Mexican 
bells are so much more musical than ours is 
that the Mexican bells are artistically made, 
shaped with reference to tone, thin at the edge, 
each one a work of art intelligently manipu- 
lated, not mechanically cast without reference 
to the sound it shall produce. The great bells 
are struck with a clapper, and not swung. 
There would be much less objection to the use 
of church bells in the United States — the 
harsh and barbarous jangle which shocks the 
Sunday stillness — if our bells had any of the 
musical quality of the Mexican. The houses 
of Morelia are generally plain and mostly of 
one story, but in the principal streets and 
about the plaza are many buildings of fine pro- 
portions, and simple, noble facades, with elegant 
carvings in low relief. Even the new buildings 
in light cream-colored stone preserve the old 
elegance, the architects being as yet untouched 


by the modern craze for monstrous roofs, oddi- 
ty, and over-ornamentation. 

This is not the best season for fruits and 
flowers, but the spacious market was well sup- 
plied with tropical fruits, great variety of ba- 
nanas and plantains, oranges, mangos, the sev- 
eral sorts of the zapota family, the chirimoya, 
the granadilla, and so forth ; and the abundance 
of flowers of the common sort — roses, carna- 
tions, and sweet-peas — testify to the popular 
love of them. 

At the end of the main street begins the 
Galzada — literally, the " shod-place." Here, 
on and near an open square, are the bath-houses 
— cheap swimming tanks for the populace — 
and the decorated courts and apartments for the 
more wealthy. Not far off is a most humane 
institution — a horse-bath — a large deep reser- 
voir, entered by an inclined plane, where the 
horses are taken and enjoy a refreshing swim. 
The Calzada is half a mile of large ash-trees 
arched over a wide paved trottoir, with a con- 
tinuous row of high-backed stone benches on 
each side. It is a famous place for promenad- 
ing in the late afternoon. The drive runs on 
each side, fronted by a row of low, plain resi- 
dences with pretty courts and flower-gardens. 
Upon some of the walls we saw the gorgeous 
camelina (or Bourganvilla) vine, the terminal 
leaf like a flower, some red and others purple. 


The stroller, who is detained by the pleasant- 
ness of this shaded Calzada, is surprised to find 
at the end of it new wonders — an open, tree- 
planted space; in front of him a picturesque 
old convent-church with quaint towers, and to 
the right the great arches of aqueducts and en- 
trancing yistas of forest and mountains. As he 
advances step by step and the view opens, his 
wonder increases. The place is unique, bewil- 
dering. The charm of the party-colored church 
is increased by rows of ancient cedars in front, 
which all lean slanting across its fa9ade, as if 
swept by a strong wind. Some say that an 
earthquake gave these venerable trees this cant. 
To the right, paths lead under the arches of 
the aqueduct to the Alameda. The aqueduct, 
re'minding one of the noble structures that 
stride across the Roman Campagna, comes in 
from the mountains, and skirts the Alameda, 
while a branch at a sharp angle runs toward 
the town. Thus a series of noble interlacing 
arches is presented to the eye as one approaches 
from the Galzada, and the view through these 
is so novel and beautiful that the spectator is 
literally spell-bound with delight. The glimpse 
of forests and purple hills through the arches 
is lovely, and the perspective of the giant aque- 
duct across the plain to the mountains is noble. 

Passing under the arches, we enter the Alsir 


meda, which is unlike any other in the world. 
It is at once a forest and a tangled garden, 
once trim and well kept, now more beautiful 
than ever in its neglected luxuriance and remi- 
niscence of former order. It has the charm of 
some old garden of a once magnificent estate. 
The grounds are a couple of miles in circum- 
ference, circled by a charming drive. The 
original plan seems to have been paths like the 
spokes of a wheel from a " round " in the 
centre, but outside this round there are other 
centres and intersecting walks, offering in every 
direction the most charming vistas, through 
arching trees and vines and alleea of flowers and 
tropical foliage. Although this park is public 
ground, individuals have obtained the privilege 
of living here and cultivating vegetable gardens 
and flowers, and here and there the wanderer 
comes Across a half -ruined cottage hidden in 
the rampant vegetation, surrounded by hedges 
of roses, acres of sweet-peas, acres of carnations, 
a wilderness of scent and bloom. Crumbling 
monuments, circular seats of stone about the 
ruins of a fountain, pretty arbors, grass-grown 
paths — all formality lost in the neglect of man 
and the kindly luxuriance of nature. Such 
glorious foliage, such an inspiring, sparkling 
air, such a tender blue in the sky 1 I thought 
at the time that I had seen nothing of the kind 


lovelier in the world. And the whole scene is 
touched with the pathos of neglect and decay. 

On the afternoon of Shrove-Tuesday all the 
city was out en fite. A band was playing in 
the Calzada ; its benches were filled ; its pave- 
ment was thronged. It wa? a fSte of the com- 
mon people, only now and then members of the 
better class mingling with the throng or pass- 
ing in carriages. All the women of this class 
were invariably overdressed in exceedingly bad 
taste, in flamboyant colors c^ blue and green. 
Some very young girls appeared, mincing along 
in ridiculous costume — silk gowns made in 
the waist exactly like those of grown women, 
but with short pleated skirts, long silk stock- 
ings, and white satin shoes. There were a 
few maskers and mummers rushing through 
the crowd in fantastic costumes, but the mass 
of the people were of the peasant clasiJ. And 
what a kaleidoscopic scene it was of shifting 
oddity and color — every complexion invented 
by man, from black to cream — black hybrids, 
yellow hybrids, Spanish types, Indian types — 
all a jumble of miscegenation, in bright sc- 
rapes, graceful ribosas, big hats, wonderfully 
decorated trousers ; and most notable of all, 
the dandies of the city, slender-legged, effemi- 
nate young milksops, the fag-end of a decayed 
civilization, without yirility or purpose. I no- 


ticed that every woman, every child, and some 
of the men of the lower class were marked on 
the forehead with the sign of the cross in lamp- 
black, and following the throng into the chapel, 
I saw the priests affixing this mark of conse- 
cration to the brows of the devout. It was 
altogether an orderly, polite,' pleasing crowd, 
amusing itself simply and heartily in the sun- 
shine. Nearly everybody was nibbling a head 
of lettuce. The Morelia lettuce is trained 
to grow in long blanched heads, and is 
the tenderest and sweetest in the world. It is 
delicious eaten without any condiment. All 
about the place piles of it were for sale, and 
each head was decorated with a scarlet poppy. 
These people have an artistic eye for color and 
effect. In the Alameda the scene was fully as 
picturesque, if less animated. In all the alUes 
were seen pretty family groups, gay companies 
picnicking under the trees, and making merry 
with the simplest fare. That night, with mu- 
sic and moonlight in the balmy air, the. plaza 
was as gay as a theatre ; the common people 
were cooking and eating a sort of Shrove-Tues- 
day cake, tortillas fried and sprinkled with 
sugar and grated nutmeg and cinnamon ; in- 
numerable little fires of soft wood in elevated 
iron braziers cast a fantastic light upon the 
motley groups. These people have the secret 
of enjoyment at small expense. 


Morelia has a thriving state college in the 
nature of a general school for boys of all grades . 
and ages, having a well-ordered library, mostly 
ecclesiastical, but with a fair collection of 
Greek and Latin classics, and some interesting 
old Spanish books. No attempt is made to 
keep up with modern literature. 

Morelia is apparently well ordered, and the 
State of Michoacan is at present peaceful. 
But I could not find that the people, though 
there is nominally general suffrage, have any- 
thing to do with the government, or take any 
interest in politics. OflScers are retained or 
elected as dictated by the central personal 
government. It was the observation of Amer- 
ican and English residents that the elections 
are a farce. Whatever votes are registered on 
election day, the result is predetermined. I 
was told of the case of a foreigner wto was 
employing a couple of hundred men in a min- 
ing operation which would be Seriously inter- 
rupted if the men took a day or two off to vote. 
He stated his case to a government official, and 
was told that he might cast the votes of the 
men himself ; and this he did. If the most of 
the officials, including the judges, are not 
venal, they are much belied by common report. 
Foreigners engaged in business reckon as part 
of their ordinary and necessary expenses money 


paid to judges and other officials to secure sim- 
ple justice. In mentioning this I only repeat 
common talk. The Mexicans themselves rarely 
have confidence in each other. 

A great complaint throughout the republic is 
the rapacity of the customs and other officials. 
There is little uniformity as to duties exacted. 
There are, as before said, not only the national 
duties, but duties on the border of each state, 
and the entrance to each city. The laws seem 
to be arbitrarily changed by the central au- 
thority, and the regulations are exceedingly 
vexatious to business men, who never know 
what to depend on. 

The republic sequestrated the monasteries 
and nunneries, and confiscated most of the 
church property. It also forbade all public re- 
ligious processions, and the wearing in public 
of clerical garments. The priests are there- 
fore not generally distinguishable by their 
dress. In Morelia, however, owing to the in- 
tense ecclesiasticism of its population, this rule 
was never severely enforced, and the priests 
retained a clerical garb. I think lately that 
there is visible in the country at large a little 
relaxation of severity against ecclesiasticism. 
If common report is accepted, the lives of most 
of the priests are not morally reputable. It 
would be unjust to take street gossip as final 


evidence of the morality of a people ; but some 
facts are indisputable. As a rule the Indians 
are not formally married, but they, are said to 
be generally faithful in their domestic rela- 
tions. For the ordinary Mexicans marriage is 
difficult, because of its expense and the many 
vexatious requirements. Informal relations are 
therefore common. In the higher classes it is 
said that the state of morals is little better 
than in the lower, but intercourse between the 
sexes is hedged about by the old Spanish cus- 
toms. Women are watched and secluded. 
Chances of acquaintance are rare. The theory 
is that couples who are to marry never see 
each other alone till after the marriage cere- 
mony. But human nature is human nature as 
well in Mexico as elsewhere, and opportuni- 
ties are found or made. Idle young men and 
equally idle young women, who neither read 
nor work, will exercise their ingenuity. 

Courting is an elaborate science, and has a 
literature and code of its own. I saw one after- 
noon a slender young gentleman, in the modi- 
fied Mexican costume of the dandy of to-day, 
leaning against a column of an arcade on the 
plaza, and ogling and making signs toward a 
window in the second story of a house diago- 
nally across from where he stood. My compan- 
ion, who knew the young gentleman, offered to 


engage him in conversation, while I sauntered 
along and looked up to the balcony, at the open 
window of which sat the young lady who was 
replying to the signals of her lover. The 
young man was " playing the bear." Every- 
body who passed knew it, and accepted as a 
thing of course this semi-public furtive court- 
ship. The lovers were using the sign-manual 
of the deaf-mutes. Their courtship had been 
going on for a year. It might continue for 
two or three years longer, and then, if the 
parents consented, it might end in marriage. 
In theory the young people would never have 
an opportunity of meeting until such time as 
the parents arrange the betrothal, when the 
young man would be admitted to the house, 
and see his sweetheart in the presence of her 
relatives. In point of fact, he would come at 
night, especially if the night were dark, and 
stand under her window and talk with her, 
bring her flowers and fruit, exchange notes, 
Qjid perhaps climb up and kiss her hand. 
Generally the lover bribes the servant to carry 
messages, and secretly to admit the lover to 
the apartment of his mistress. The young la- 
dies are very devout in attendance on church 
services, for to church the lovers go also, and 
while the demure maid is kneeling beside her 
duena or her mother, the young gentleman is 


kneeling against a pillar near by, and the two 
are talking with their fingers. When the 
apartments of the family of the beloved are on 
the ground-floor, courtship is carried on more 
satisfactorily at night through the window-bars. 
This policy of repression and seclusion, of dis- 
trust of the honor and virtue of women, has its 
natural result. Courtship becomes intrigue, 
and clandestine meetings arj) always more dan- 
gerous than open intercourse. Lovers are pro- 
verbially ingenious. There is on sale every- 
where and in universal use a cheaply printed 
little pamphlet entitled " El Secretario de lo^ 
Amantes." It is the guide and hand-book of 
lovers. It contains the language of flowers, the 
significance of the varied wearing and hand- 
ling of the sombrero, the language of the fan, 
the language of fruits, the meaning of the va- 
ried use of the handkerchief, emblems for de- 
signating the hours of day and night in making 
appointments, the use of the numerals in cipher 
writing, several short chapters on the conduct 
of a love affair, and the deaf-mute alphabet 
for one hand. This literary gem seems to be 
more studied than any other in the republic. 

On the 12th of March we took the train for 
Lagonilla (a distance of some twenty miles, or 
two hours in time), then the end of the rail. 
The road is now finished to Lake Patzcuaro. 


The morning, as usual, was lovely, the air light, 
warm, superb. We had a fair view of Morelia 
as we left it and ascended ; its domes and tow- 
ers and situation in the plain gave it an Ori- 
ental appearance, and suggested, without much 
resembling it, Damascus. .The country was 
irrigated in spots, and the vivid green patches 
with the hills and trees made a charming land- 

At Lagonilla our party of seven had char- 
tered the four-wheeled diligence; a Concord 
coach, at a cost of twelve dollars, for the drive 
of fifteen miles, in three hours, over the wretch- 
ed road to Patzcuaro. A high wind was blow- 
ing, and the way was exceedingly dusty. In 
all this region in the month of March a wind 
from the southwest arises about ten o'clock, 
and increases in violence all day till sunset, 
when it dies away. The country was rolling, 
much broken, cultivated in irrigated patches, 
the fine mountains in the distance. We passed 
through two or three paved, picturesque, and 
dirty villages. As we ascended, the weather 
grew cooler, the wind increased in force. The 
road was very bad, full of stones, bowlders, 
and pitch-holes, in places almost impassable. 
The line of the railway was most of the time 
in sight, and at intervals we encountered gangs 
of workmen throwing up slight embankments. 


The mode of working was peculiar. No wheel- 
barrows were used. Each workman had a 
small piece of matting or cloth about as big as 
a large dinner napkin. This he filled with dirt 
in the trenches, took up by the corners, and 
earned up and emptied on the embankment. 
Occasionally he would take up a chunk of earth 
in his hands. The pay of laborers was twenty- 
five cents a day. The effort to make them use 
wheelbarrows in grading had failed (many of 
the laborers carried the barrows on their heads 
after they had filled them), and the engineers 
insisted that the men accomplished more work 
in a day than a like gang would with barrows. 
The reason was that time is lost in filling the 
barrows and wheeling them up the roundabout 
plank inclined planes ; the laborers run up 
and down the embankment quickly, and move 
more dirt in a day than by the method in use 
with us. 

Two miles outside of Patzcuaro we struck a 
wide road paved with small bowlders which 
nearly shook the coach to pieces. No sort of 
riding could be greater torture. The village 
lies in a hollow, a league from the lake, parts 
of which only are visible from certain eleva- 
tions in the town. If it lay in sight of the 
lake, it would have one of the most beautiful 
situations possible. The town is m generis^ 


primitive and solid, and as yet very little af- 
fected by intercourse with the outside world. 
The new railway station is on the shore of the 
lake, two or three hundred feet lower than the 
town, and a couple of miles distant from the 
hollow in which it nestles. It has a large 
plaza, shaded by splendid ash-trees, and sur- 
rounded by arcades and colonnades, in which 
are very inferior shops. Friday is market-day, 
but there was no great display, the chief sellers 
being Indians from the neighboring villages, 
who brought in pottery, tortillas, and wilted 
vegetables. On a second plaza of good size, 
which has trees and large water-tanks like the 
larger one, stands the hotel Concordia, a cheer- 
ful house with an inner court, and flowers and 
shrubs in red pots, and a wretched restaurant. 
The roofs of the town are tiled, and most of 
the houses, being of one story, have project- 
ing cornices of wood with supporting beams. 
Judging by the number of old churches and 
suppressed monasteries, the place had once con- 
siderable ecclesiastical importance. Some of 
the churches have the beauty that is given by 
towers and archaic .statuary and the mellow 
colors of faded reds and yellows. One of the 
suppressed convents, with a church attached, 
has a pretty Italian sort of court, sweet with 
the perfume of orange blossoms — a meditative 


place of cloistered seclusion. In its demesne I 
saw two La Marque rose-trees, fully twelve feet 
high, with stems five inches in diameter, perfect 
little trees, the umbrella-shaped tops covered 
with roses. The town is irregular and hilly, 
but all paved very roughly. On its highest 
elevation is a third open place, planted with 
noble trees, and fronted by the grim walls and 
gaunt church of an extinct monastery. On a 
hill to the westward is a ruined church, which 
is approached by a broad avenue of superb old 
ash-trees — a tree which attains great dignity 
in this region — and lined with prayer stations. 
Everywhere are the signs of a former haughty 
ecclesiastical domination, which perhaps reached 
its acme of cost and splendor in the days of 
Philip II. 

Patzcuaro gave few evidences of enterprise 
or business life, but it has many well-to-do 
citizens of cultivated manners and kindly hos- 
pitality. To some of these gentlemen we were 
indebted for many favors : they procured for 
us horses and mules ; they planned excursions, 
and accompanied us on them ; they brought us 
sweetmeats ; they entertained us with the tin- 
kle of guitars, and they were very solicitous 
about undue exertion or exposure, and the vio- 
lation of their sanitary rules. One of the rules 
was never to bathe after a ride on horseback, 


not even to wash the face or the hands. It 
was considered very dangerous. These people 
knew nothing of the world, very little of the 
republic of Mexico, were to the last degree pro- 
vincial, but had all the elaborate courtesy of 
manner that is called Spanish. 

The inhabitants I suppose are generally poor, 
and live closely, but in a week's sojourn there 
we saw little abject poverty, or what was con- 
sidered so there. The traders are sharp and 
not much to be depended on, the mechanics 
are dilatory, the temper of the whole people 
is that of procrastination. We saw very lit- 
tle drunkenness. The people drink to some 
extent pulque and a mild beer, and perhaps 
some strong liquors, but usually coffee, water, 
and drinks mildly flavored with limes and 

Perhaps this is as good a place as any to say 
that Mexico, in my observation, notwithstand- 
ing its facilities for making intoxicating bever- 
ages from the cane and the maguey, and the 
absence of all restricting legislation, is generally 
a temperate country. In some regions much 
pulque is drank, and often much aguardiente 
(a fiery sort of high wine), and in the purlieus 
of the city of Mexico I saw many drunken men 
and women ; but I believe the great body of 
the people, like the Spaniards in Spain, are 
essentially temperate. 


One of our first walks out of the town was 
three quarters of a mile to the top of a hill, 
where there is a long stone bench and a view of 
the lake. It is a favorite resort of the towns- 
people. Here on one occasion we encountered 
a party of revelers making too free with the 
bottle ; but this was exceptional. From this 
elevation we went on a mile further to the top 
of a mountain (which had two years ago an 
unfavorable reputation as the lookout of brig- 
ands), overlooking the town, the lake, long 
ranges of mountains, and a great stretch of 

The lake is irregular in shape, perhaps 
twenty miles in its widest diameter, filled 
with islands, and surrounded by shapely and 
noble mountains. On two of the islands are 
churches and fishing villages. The fields on 
the border are highly tilled. I counted as 
many as sixteen villages in sight. The view 
was inexpressibly lovely. The lake can be 
compared with any of our finest in beauty of 
outline, and it surpasses most of them in moun- 
tain surroundings. In its contour, steep hills, 
signs of an ancient and decayed civilization in 
villages and church towers, it has more likeness 
to the Italian lakes than to any in the United 
States, and the enveloping atmosphere has a 
color and warmth which ours usually want. 


On our walk we picked as many as thirty varie- 
ties of wild flowers. 

At Patzcaaro is sold a great quantity of In- 
dian pottery, made* at Tzintzuntzan and other 
villages, mostly in the shape of water jars and 
coolers. These utensils, even the most rude in 
finish and the cheapest, are almost invariably 
beautiful, one might say classic forms; and 
made of red clay, well baked, they have a color 
rivaling Pompeiian ware. Some of the jars 
are of enormous size, as big as those described 
in the story of the Forty Thieves in the " Ara- 
bian Nights," and each one capable of contain- 
ing and concealing a man. The vase is often 
ornamented with geometric designs in faint 
dark color, suggesting the Greek taste and skill. 
I found in Mexico a great variety of excellent 
common pottery, exceedingly cheap, usually 
ornamented, sometimes with barbaric tints in 
colors, but always effective. The most barbaric 
ornamentation has an instinct for effect in it 
which is truly artistic; in the crudest ware 
with the most splashy decoration there is some- 
thing pleasing, varied, artistic, a native grace 
which is wanting in what we call civilized 
work. At Teluca we purchased plates of a 
lovely cream-color, with quaint designs entirely 
Persian in style. At Patzcuaro we found by 
chance, for it was not displayed for sale, some* 


tbing that interested us more than anything 
else made in Mexico. This was a true irides- 
cent ware. The specimens we obtained were 
small round and rectangular plates. The lustre 
is the true Saracenic, Alhambra, or Gubbio 
lustre, the real iridescence, shimmering, shift- 
ing colors in changing lights, ruby, green, blue. 
Would it not be singular if this lost art were 
preserved in Mexico ? The ware is rude. 
The makers of it ha\fe not the certainty of pro- 
ducing a particular color in a picture which 
distinguishes the Gubbio work, and it lacks the 
elegance and the glaze, the solidity and fine- 
ness, of the Alhambra tiles. But it is genuine 
iridescence. The plates are exceedingly thin 
and brittle. The lustre seems to be metallic, 
of copper, and the effect to be produced by sub- 
jecting the ware to an exceedingly high tem- 
perature, a firing so fierce that the clay is ap- 
parently disintegrated, and has lost its ringing 

It was impossible during our stay to obtain 
definite information as to the place of its manu- 
facture. It might be made, some one thought, 
in the city of Puebla, but pueblo is the general 
name for an Indian village, and the seller, when 
questioned, was doubtful. Several Mexican 
gentlemen of intelligence assured me that it 
came from Santa Fe, a small Indian village on 


the north shore of Lake Patzcuaro, and that it 
was only brought in on Palm-Sunday. Subse- 
quently we learned that this extraordinary 
pottery is made in the little, mountain village 
of San Felipe Torresmochas, in the State and 
near the town of Guanajuato. 


A LITTLE company of Americans and Mex- 
icans, attended by a single mozoy or servant, 
rode on the 15th of March, on horses and 
mules, from Patzcuaro to Tczintczuntczan, four 
leagues Spanish, or about fifteen miles. The 
trip might have been made on the lake in the 
long Indian dug-outs, but at this season of the 
year the strong wind from the southwest which 
invariably rises before noon renders the lake 
very rough for row-boats. 

The day was glorious and the ride thor- 
oughly exhilarating. Nothing else that I know 
equals the pleasurable excitement of being on 
horseback on a sparkling morning, and setting 
out on a journey every step of which is full of 
novelty. We took at first the paved road to- 
ward Morelia, but soon turned off across fields, 
the ancient way to Tczintczuntczan, which is 
one of the oldest of Indian villages, and was 
formerly the capital of the State of Michoacan. 
In the low foreground, when we turned off, we 
had the lake, and beyond, high, pointed, irreg- 
ular, silvery mountains. 


We crossed a shallow arm of the lake on a 
causeway and an ancient bridge. Thousands of 
black ducks, and now and then a white crane, 
enlivened the lagoon, and at the bridge stal- 
wart Indian fishermen were hauling a seine, 
their dug-out moored to the bank. This boat, 
hollowed out from a tree trunk, was thirty feet 
long, deep, broader at the bottom than at the 
top. Some of the Indian boats are much lotiger 
than this, and their size testifies to the noble 
forest growth. They are propelled by poles, 
and by paddles shaped like a warming-pan, 
and are said to be perfectly safe. We skirted 
the lake by a very stony road for some dis- 
tance. On the way we constantly met Indians, 
bare-legged and bare-breasted, wretchedly clad, 
the men bending under enormous crates of pot- 
tery, and the women moving with the quick 
trot peculiar to them, on their way to market. 
In old days this was a sort of royal road, and 
it is now so much traveled by foot-men that 
women find it profitable to set up shelves along 
the way for the sale of food. We crossed an- 
other long causeway, through a lagoon, sedgy, 
silvery, swarming with ducks; the scene ^as 
very pretty and peaceful, and the view com- 
bined the elements of loveliness and gran- 

Winding up and around slight elevations 


through a country little tilled, we came in 
sight of Tczintczuntczan, nestling beside the 
blue lake, a cluster of brown flat roofs amid 
trees, with two old church towers rising out of 
the foliage. On a height to the right are the 
ruins of the palace of King Caltzontzi, now a 
mere heap of unburnt bricks on the rocks. 
This royal residence of the King of the Taras- 
cons, before the arrival of the Spaniards, over- 
looked a lovely domain of lake and hills and 
sloping fields, and had gathered about it in 
rude adobe huts a population of fishermen and 
potters, whose descendants practice the same 
arts, and have no doubt the same appearance 
and manners, except as they are modified by 
the forms of the foreign religion. 

The interior of the town does not keep the 
promise of the exterior for picturesqueness. 
The streets are broad, but full of rubbish, un- 
even, and mere lanes between blank adobe 
walls, with now and then a door opening into a 
garden or a miserable tenement. We alighted 
under sycamore-trees in front of the jail and 
court-house. The jail has two apartments, half- 
dark rooms, partly excavated out of the hill, 
a floor of earth, one small grating of wood in 
front, which, serves for door and window, and 
furnished with a jug of water and a mat or two 
on the ground for a bed. At this grating two 


patient women sat talking with a couple of 
stupid-looking young men who were locked up 
for theft. The prisoners seem to depend upon 
their relations for food. The court-room is a 
decent apartment, and has hanging on the wall 
several badly-painted portraits, and a very cu- 
rious ancient picture, representing the arms of 
the city of Zinzunzan (as it is here spelled), 
and contains the portraits of three kings — El 
Rey Cigauagau, El Rey Sinzicha Tangajuan 
Bulgo Caltzontzi, and El Rey Characu — in 
one quarter arms and banners, in "the other 
several heads, three castles, a man in ermine, 
swords, and crown. 

The city has no hotel or place of entertain- 
ment, and most of the houses into which we 
looked are mere adobe sheds, with little furni- 
ture. But the place has a school-room, where 
the education seems to be very primitive. We 
ate the luncheon we had carried in the best 
house in the place, in a large room, displaying 
some taste in decorations, having some speci- 
mens of the Uruapan wooden ware and painted 
plates on the walls. In this house there was 
one of the red jars manufactured here having 
an excellent head in high relief on the side, 
Egyptian in its noble serenity, and yet grace- 
ful — the only decoration of so high a type 
that I saw. 


The chief business of the village, except fish- 
ing, is the manufacture of pottery. This is 
carried on entirely in private houses and gar- 
dens. The clay is obtained from a hill near 
the town, and is brought by the men, who also 
fire the kilns for the baking, and they usually 
tote it to market. The women do the rest of 
the work. They knead the clay and mould the 
pottery, a labor at which their small hands and 
pliant fingers are exceedingly deft. No wheels 
are used. All the utensils are made in half- 
moulds and joined before baking. Seated on 
the ground, the woman has at her side a heap 
of clay, and before her a composing -stone. 
The clay she kneads and rolls and spats in her 
hands until it is of proper and uniform thick- 
ness (and the women are exceedingly skillful at 
this), and then it is pressed into the moulds. 
As this ware is very cheap in the distant mar- 
ket, a woman must make a good deal of it in a 
day to support her family. A house here gen- 
erally consists of an enclosure in mud walls, 
perhaps a shabby garden with some fine roses 
and other flowers, an open adobe hut where 
the pottery is made and baked, and an equally 
rude hut where the family sleep on mats spread 
on the earth. At one of the pottery places 
was a small chapel to St. Helena, with a bedi- 
zened figure of the saint, and hung with votive 


oflFerings. A penitent, a young woman bearing 
a lighted candle, and attended by an elderly 
dame, stood in front of the altar. At this 
house, where we were received with entire cour- 
tesy and politeness, though all the eyes of the 
women, children, and boys followed us with a 
little suspicion, as if the presence of strangers 
was unaccountable, I had a curious illustration 
of the morals of the community. I had in my 
hand a fine rose, which came from the garden 
where we lunched, and as an acknowledgment 
of the courtesy of the house, and when we were 
saying good-by, I ofEered it to one of the young 
girls. She refused it with indignation, or 
rather took it and cast it angrily on the 
ground, while all the group looked at us with 
suspicion. I could not imagine what was 
wrong, but my Mexican friends explained after- 
ward that it was an insult to oflFer a flower to 
a maiden in that way, for the inference was 
that I had a bad motive. 

The Indians of this village are industrious, 
virtuous, and exceedingly poor, judging pov- 
erty by the standard of our wants. The women 
are short in stature, broad, and sturdy, but 
with small feet and hands, and much resemble 
our Northern squaws in features, but they have 
a mass of thick black hair, which has in it a 
red glint in the sun. On the shore, where we 


went to see the fishermen drawing their nets, 
and where the view of the blue water and the 
mountains is very pretty, the women and chil- 
dren all ran away and squatted in the bushes 
at our approach. The presence of a lady in 
our party even gave them no confidence. 

The present attraction of this village is not 
the ancient palace of the native king, nor the 
descendants of his people, who mould the an- 
tique pottery and burn candles to St. Helena. 
It is the romance of the Spanish ecclesiastical 
dominion. It is finding in this remote Indian 
village the remains of a splendid hierarchy, 
which counted no labor too much, no sacrifice 
too costly, no prodigality of money too free, to 
secure the salvation and the tribute of the 
Western world. Tczintczuntczan was the cap- 
ital of this province and the natural centre for 
the display of the magnificence of the Church. 
The name was well known in Spain ; the vil- 
lage and its people were favorites with Philip 
II., who seems to have had an exaggerated no- 
tion of its importance. Here arose churches 
and convents, here learned and saintly devotees 
of the faith gave their lives to the cause of the 
cross, and to these poor savages Philip mj^de a 
gift that any monarch or any city might envy. 

When we entered the walled church enclos- 
ure we seemed to have stepped back into the 


sixteenth century. The scene is more Italian 
than Spanish in character. This large enclos- 
ure, now neglected and run to waste, was once 
a beautiful garden, cultivated by the monks, 
who liked, in their exile, to surround them- 
selves with something to remind them of home. 
There iEire evidences that it was formally laid 
out and planted, but the paths are overgrown, 
and only stray lilies and roses remain to attest 
the former care. That which most vividly r^ 
calls the Spanish missionaries and their taste 
is the olive-trees that entirely surround the 
enclosure vrithin the walls. Judging by their 
appearance, they must have been planted three 
centuries ago. They are the largest olive-trees 
I ever saw, and bear unmistakable marks of 
great age. Most of them are mere ruins of 
trees, many of them mere shells of bark, but 
all of them, with the tenacity of the olive, still 
putting forth verdant sprouts on their decayed 
summits, and bearing fruit. Twisted, gnarled, 
fantastic, hollow, with recesses where one may 
sit, and cleft so that one can pass through the 
trunk, they yet stand like shapes of vegetation 
in an artist's dream of Inferno. I doubt if the 
world can show elsewhere a more interesting 
group of these historic trees. In the centre of 
the enclosure some men and boys, in a leis- 
urely and larkish mood, were digging a grave. 


A few other graves are there, but no head- 
stones. Some of the mounds were very fresh, 
suggesting a sudden access of mortality, in this 
healthful region ; some one remarked that 
March was probably the time to die, the very 
aged being shaken oS by the rude, persistent 
winds of the season. A wretched beggar or 
two followed us. One of them, who was much 
deformed .and had been very clinging, made 
a specialty of fits. I had already given him 
something, but it was not enough for his de- 
serts, and when we were about to enter the 
house for our lunch, he threw himself on a heap 
of rubbish in the sfreet and went into convul- 
sions, foaming at the mouth. When he saw 
that nobody paid any attention to him, he got 
up and went away. 

In the enclosure are two ancient churches, 
one with a tower and bells, the parish church, 
gaunt and plain, the other the chapel attached 
to the monastery. Both have an appearance 
of decay and non-use, the religious accommoda- 
tions being now in excess of the dwindled pop- 
ulation. The monastery, with its outer stair- 
way, gallery, and courts, is a decidedly pictu- 
resque old pile, with color subdued but not 
much faded. The adjoining chapel is large, 
and above the average of Mexican church in» 
teriors in interest, and the cloisters are beau- 


tiful. In the centre, walled by a low parapet 
and open to the sky, is such a garden as one 
finds in the decaying monasteries of Italy, with 
orange-trees and a tangle of vines and a cat 
asleep in the sun. The cloister is of two sto- 
ries, with round arches, one above the other ; 
the ceiling corners are of wood carved in ara- 
besque, as in Moorish architecture. On the 
walls are very rude and high-colored paintings, 
representing the rites of baptism, confirmation, 
confession, and so forth. It is altogether a bit 
of the Old World, and one has here an inde- 
finable sense of peace and repose. 

The aged priest who has charge of the prem- 
ises and lives in apartments above the clois- 
ters, the only intelligent man in the village, was 
unfortunately absent, and we had difficulty in 
persuading the girl who answered our call from 
the upper gallery to come down, and unlock 
the sacristy door. In the sacristy is the treas- 
ure of Mexico, The room is oblong, and has 
windows only on one side, towards the west, 
broad windows, closed with wooden shutters. 
On the walls are several so-called sacred 
daubs and a number of uncouth and rubbishy 
images. But across, and filling one end over 
the vestment chest, hangs "The Entomb- 
ment," by Titian. The canvas, which is en- 
closed in a splendid old carved wooden frame, 


is fifteen and a half feet long. It contains 
eleven figures, all life-size. In the upper left- 
hand corner is a bit of very Titianesque land- 
scape, exactly like those which Titian was fond 
of introducing into his pictures, and which his 
contemporaries attributed to the influence of 
his birthplace, Pieve di Cadore ; on a hill are 
three crosses in relief, against an orange sky. 
In the lower left-hand corner is Mary Magda- 
len seated on the ground, contemplating the 
nails and crown of thorns. In the lower fore- 
ground, very realistically painted, are an oint- 
ment box and a basin. 

The figure of Christ, supported in a sheet, 
is being carried to the tomb — a dark cavern 
in the rear. Two men, holding the sheet, sup- 
port the head, and one the feet. Aiding also 
in this tender office is a woman, her head 
bowed over that of the dead Christ. Behind is 
St. John, Mary the Virgin, Mary whom Christ 
loved, and St. Joseph. There are two other 
figures, partially in shadow at the right, spec- 
tators of the solemn scene, and one of them is 
said to be a portrait of Philip 11. 

The flesh-painting of the central figure is 
marvelously fine in imitation of the rigid pallor 
of death, while that of two of the figures car- 
rying the body is equally true to robust life. 
The St. John is exquisitely beautiful in draw- 


ing and color, conveying the traditional grace 
and manly tenderness of the beloYed disciple. 
The yestments are in Titian's best manner, the 
reds and deep blues harmonious and beautiful 
in tone. 

The grouping is masterly, natural, free, and as 
little academic as such a set scene well can be. 
Indeed, composition and color both proclaim 
the picture a great masterpiece. As you study 
it you have no doubt that it is an original, not 
a copy. It has the unmistakable stamp of gen- 
uineness. The picture, thanks to the atmos- 
phere of this region, is in a perfect state of 
preservation, the canvas absolutely uninjured. 

Is this great picture really a Titian? It 
seems incredible that a work of this value and 
importance should be comparatively unknown, 
and that it should be found in a remote Indian 
village in Mexico. But the evidence that it is a 
Titian is strong. It was sent to this church by 
Philip II., who seems to have thought that no 
gift was too costly or precious for the cause of 
the true faith, and who no doubt was deceived 
by the exaggerated Spanish narratives of the 
native civilization and taste. Titian, we know, 
visited at the court of Philip, and executed 
works to his order. It is possible that this pic- 
ture is a replica of one somewhere in Europe. 
I think that any one familiar with the works of 


Titian would say that this is in his manner, 
that in color and composition it is like his best 
pictures. I trust that this description of it 
will lead to some investigation abroad that will 
settle the question. 

We stayed in the village several hours, and 
returned again to look at the picture before we 
left. The western sun was shining into th^ 
broad windows, illuminating the shabby apart- 
ment in which it hung. And in this light the 
figures were more life-like, the color more ex- 
quisite, the composition lovelier, than before. 
We could not but be profoundly impressed. I 
cannot say how much was due to the contrast 
of the surroundings, to the surprise at finding 
such a work of art where it is absolutely lost to 
the world and unappreciated. I say unappreciat- 
ed, for I do not suppose there is a human being 
who ever sees it, except at rare intervals a for- 
eign visitor, who has the least conception of its 
beauty. And yet these ignorant natives and the 
priest who guards it are very much attached to 
it, attributing to its presence here, I think, a 
supernatural influence. They will not consent 
to part with it, perhaps would not dare to let it 
go. A distinguished American artist was will- 
ing to pay a very large sum of money for it ; 
the Bishop of Mexico made an effort to get pos- 
session of it and carry it to the capital ; but all 


offers and entreaties have been refused and re* 
sisted. How long it will be safe in a decaying 
building, in the midst of a population that has 
no conception of its value as a work of art, is 
matter of conjecture. 

We rode home partly on another road, 
through lanes densely bordered with vegetation 
and amid plantations under the mountain and 
by the lake shore. Everywhere are signs of a 
former ecclesiastical vigor. In the midst of 
one luxuriant plantation close to the lake we 
passed a very old church, with a detached cam- 
panile of adobe, having a bell, the only access 
to which was by a ladder. The evening was 
lovely, and as we climbed the winding, rough, 
and stony paths to Patzcuaro we had a charm- 
ing view of the lake and its islands. 

Our curiosity had been excited by the curi- 
ously decorated wooden ware of Uruapan, and 
we heard so many contradictory reports about 
the charms of this village, which is famous for 
its coffee, that I determined to ride over there. 
The shortest distance is forty-five miles, but 
for the sake of better roads we made it fifty. 
The journey must be on horseback. 

It was St. Patrick's Day in the morning as 
we rode through the arch out of the court-yard 
of the inn. The morning-star was a diamond 
point in the rosy dawn. The mozo led the 


way, a swovd strapped to his saddle, a pannier 
containing bread, cold chicken, and cheese, 
while the necks of a couple of bottles of wine 
peeped out of the basket. The wine was in 
case of sickness. The sword was for war. Mr. 
Pablo Plata, Mexican gentleman, wore leather 
leggings, a linen coat, and a serape over his 
shoulders. The white horse of the writer was 
a fast walker, with an easy gait, single foot or 
canter, and entirely bridle-wise, guided by a 
touch of the rein on the neck or by the pres- 
sure of the knees. The Mexican horses are 
small, but they have endurance, and are gener- 
ally agreeable under the saddle. 

The soft bells were ringing for matins as we 
rattled over the stone pavement, came out into 
the country lanes, and left the town in its re- 
pose. The air was deliciously fresh ; birds 
sang in the hedgerows ; there was the exhilara- 
tion of spring, of young love ; every sense was 
delighted. A mile beyond the town, at the 
parting of the paths, and in the point of a hill, 
we passed a cave. It used to be a lurking-place 
for bandits : only two years before, robbery and 
murder had been done there. The sun touched 
the mountain-tops as we passed the grewsome 
place. In an hour the lake was in sight ; in 
two hours we had descended into and crossed 
the plains at the foot of the lake, and passed 


through a couple of Indian villages ; at the end 
of three hours, after a considerable ascent, the 
lake was still in view, a lovely object 4n its 
mountain setting, the end of a vista of fertile 
slopes and luxuriant valley. The day was love- 
ly, but at nine o'clock the wind began to blow. 
Coming up the mountain through a noble 
growth of pines, and reaching the crest, sud- 
denly a grand prospect burst upon us — double 
rows of mountains on the Pacific coast, and 
miles and miles below, down the mountain, a 
vast valley, away off in the tierra caliente^ 
swooning in a dense atmosphere. The sky was 
very clear, but the mountains were hazy blue, 
and the valley stretching into purple distance 
slept in the sun. The country was for the 
most part untilled, and the inhabitants were 
few; trains of pack-mules were met carrying 
sacks of sugar and bales of cotton, occasionally 
a gypsy-like encampment by the road-side was 
seen, and we passed two collections of huts 
called ranches, and a pueblo of Indians of the 
Tarascon tribe. Leaving on our right the vil- 
lage of Tingambato, its church tower conspic- 
uous in the trees, we went down, down the 
mountain over an intolerable stony path, and 
came at noon to Ziracuaritiro, a warm village 
hidden in plantations of bananas, oranges, and 
all sorts of fruits of barbarous names and in-i 


sipid taste, cane fields, irrigated, and general 
tropical luxuriance of vegetation. The village 
had su sort of centre, with a rude plaza and a 
primitive church ; but it is mainly a town of 
lanes, gardens, and small plantations, in the 
midst of which the inhabitants live in thatched 
huts of adobe or cane, semi- African in appear- 

We turned into a garden to eat our luncheon. 
I call it a garden ; it was merely a tangle of 
shrubbery, without flowers, and with few fruit 
trees and no grass. In the enclosure was an 
adobe hut, only half roofed, that served as a 
kitchen, another small adobe hut where the 
family slept on mats on the ground, and an 
open-work hut of cane, with a rude bedstead — 
a couple of boards laid on trestles — for all 
furniture, the residence of a married daughter. 
The visible family was the mother, a woman 
evidently of good sense and sterling character, 
a well-grown lad, asleep in the middl0 of the 
day on a mat, a couple of young girls, the 
young married daughter, aged twenty-five, who 
had, nevertheless, a daughter aged thirteen, 
and a friend of the family, a rather pretty 
woman, of modest demeanor, who had married 
an old man, and lived in a neighboring thicket. 
These people were wretchedly poor, but exceed- 
ingly civil and friendly. They set out a table 


for US in the shade, but, except some cooking 
utensils of pottery and a few coarse plates, table 
furniture they had none, not even knives and 
forks. Fruit they could not furnish. During 
our siesta, while the horses were resting — the 
Mexican horses are allowed no food on a jour- 
ney from morning till night — I made the ac- 
quaintance of this amiable family. They all 
had the curiosity of children, and were never 
tired of looking at my watch, compass, ring, 
and the antique coins attached to the watch 
chain. What interested them chiefly, however, 
was the cost of everything. The prices inva- 
riably brought from these feminiue lips the 
softest profane exclamations of surprise. They 
all had low-pitched, sweet voices. The sole reply 
of the married daughter to any question wad 
" Sefior," in a rising or falling inflection, never 
" Si, seflor," or " No, senor." When it was time 
to go, the simple souls were as reluctant to have 
us depart as if we had been life-long friends. 
The comely lad, who acted as our guide on the 
way to show us some of the finest fruit planta- 
tions, of pines, oranges, and bananas, was very 
reluctant to accept the two-real piece of silver I 
forced into his hand. Evidently a kindly, 
gentle-natured people. 

Our way for miles lay through hot lanes and 
cane fields, with everywhere the sound of run- 


ning water. At the foot-hills we stopped to 
see a large sugar hacienda, a characteristic es- 
tablishment, half civilized, half barbarous ; a 
mingling of mill, office, kitchens, terrace, yard, 
store, store-houses, lodging-rooms, dogs, mules, 
parrots, and mongrel men and women. And 
then up, up the mountain, through open pine 
forests, with occasionally trees of giant size, 
and from the ridges glorious views under the 
trees of great mountains and the extensive hot 
country, with its towns and green plantations. 
At length, after a long pull, we reined up on 
the summit, on the edge of a precipice over- 
looking the great plain of Uruapan. The view 
was a surprise. Below was the valley, five or 
six miles broad, plentifully irrigated, green 
with maize, barley, cane ; at its further side, in 
the foot-hills, the city of Uruapan, shining in 
the rays of the withdrawing sun ; below it, in 
the luxuriant plain, two lakes like mirrors ; 
and beyond, noble mountain-peaks, stretching 
away to the Pacific, enclosing high valleys 
smoking with charcoal burning. All this 
lovely panorama projected on a background 
of pink sunset. 

After we had picked our way down a precipi- 
tous path, and passed the large hacienda of St. 
Catherine, encountering droves of mules and 
cattle on the dusty roads, we entered the very 


broatl and straight street, cut all the way longi- 
tudinally by deep ruts, that leads to the town. 
The way was terribly long to us and to our 
somewhat jaded beasts, and it seemed as if we 
never should reach the town. It was seven 
o'clock and dark when we came to the first 
houses, and then we had a long ride over the 
paved hilly streets, between blank walls of 
houses, houses with window-shutters and no 
glass, to the hotel St. Antonio. We had been 
warmly recommended to this as an excellent 
hotel, and tired, dusty, and hungry as we were, 
we rode into the court-yard with great expecta- 
tions. It was a miserable fonda of one story 
about a shabby court. No one appeared to 
welcome us. After calling and waiting some 
time, a nonchalant boy, who represented the 
indifference of the establishment, appeared, and 
said we could have rooms. In the course of 
ten minutes more of shuffling about he showed 
us an apartment, and by means of a tallow can- 
dle, which he procured after another long ab- 
sence, we saw that it was a barrack of a room, 
containing two cot beds, a wooden horse for 
the saddles, and a rickety wash-stand. The 
window had no glass, and the shutter was 
tightly closed. I asked for a separate room — 
a request which the boy did not even take into 
consideration — and when he had brought a 


pitcher of water he seemed to think his whole 
duty was discharged, for when we asked about 
supper he went away without, any reply what- 
ever, and we saw him no more. I wandered 
out into the court to the family apartments. 
A woman with a lot of children about her was 
seated on. the ground; she made a surly reply 
to my salutation, evidently regarded me with 
suspicion, and to my inquiry about supper 
deigned no answer. It was a real Spanish 
•fonda reception. In the meaa time the mozo 
had discovered that there was no food for the 
horses ; and as they were ready at the door, we 
left the candle burning in the stately apart- 
ment, and no man or woman opposing, mounted 
our tired horses, and rode away in the moon- 
light to another fonda on the plaza. The situ- 
ation of this was better, the fonda worse if 
anything than the other, except that it had a 
kitchen, kept by a couple of old women, and 
financially distinct from the hotel. The court 
was sunken, an untidy place, having a few tat- 
tered banana plants, where mules were tied at 
night. Our mozo looked after the horses, hav- 
ing to go out and buy food for them, and the 
proprietor contented himself with showing us a 
room, the only one not occupied. It had two 
beds and a tightly barred window. As my 
comrade objected ta opening even a crack to 


let in the deadly night air, I had a headache in 
the morning. It seemed to me that a hot bath, 
after such a long weary ride, would be refresh- 
ing, but my proposal was met with an exclama- 
tion of horror. Almost on his knees Mr. Plata 
begged me not to think of such a suicidal per- 
formance. Fortunately for his views, it turned 
out that there was no public bath in this city 
of nine thousand inhabitants. The next day, 
when I searched the town for one, the women 
in charge of an establishment to which I was 
sent said that if I would order one they would 
prepare it for next day. 

The demesne of the old women consisted of 
a small room with a couple of rude tables, 
without table-cloths, and benches, and a smaller 
kifthen. The earthen vessels for cooking hung 
on the walls, and all the centre was occupied 
by a stone range having several little holes for 
charcoal fires. These women were exceedingly 
good-natured, promised a supper in time, and 
sent ofiE their slatternly serving-maid to buy 
beer and bread. While the meal was in prepa- 
ration, I went out to see the town. 

The night scene was lively. The town has 
a double plaza, each surrounded by arcaded 
dwellings and shops, all more or less shabby, 
but appearing well in the moonlight. The 
shops were open ; half the town seemed to be 


getting its frugal supper in the open air, and 
the place was quite illuminated by the flaring 
torches of the dealers, who squatted on the 
ground, and offered their fragrant but uninvit- 
ing cooking to the hungry. Beyond the plaza 
is a very pretty paseo, a lovely promenade, 
well-kept walks among the trees and beds of 
bloom, an enchanting place in the moonlight, 
with the plash of the fountain and the odor of 
night - blooming flowers. Fronting it is the 
chief church of the place, a very good specimen 
of Spanish architecture. The town itself, I 
found next morning, is an out-at-the-elbow sort 
of place, but I know few others anywhere that 
have a prettier little paseo. It was nearly nine 
o'clock before our supper was ready — a non- 
descript meal, and I suppose not bad for thdse 
who like the ordinary Mexican cooking. 

We waited in the morning an hour for a cup 
of coffee. The traveler in Mexico has to learn 
that he must order his coffee the night before. 
Its preparation is a slow process. The berry, 
burned black, is ground to a fine powder, and 
water is let to drip through it drop by drop. 
The liquid, real essence of coffee, is black as 
, ink, and a tablespoonful suffices in a cup of 
hot milk. As commonly made it is too much 
burned and bitter. But the Mexican coffee, 
when the berry is properly cured, and not let 


to acquire an earthy iSaror by drying on the 
groand, is, I think, as good as any in the world. 
This raised in Uraapan is equal to the bet- 
ter-known Colima, the selected small round 
berries resembling Mocha in appearance and 

I had made the ^acquaintance the night be- 
fore of a drifting American named Santiago, 
one of the adventurers who give the Mexicans 
their idea of the people of the United States. 
Born on our frontier, he had never seen a city 
nor much of civilized life, but had been cow- 
boy, Texan rover, and associate of the lawless, 
and gravitating to Mexico and picking up the 
language, had acted as interpreter for cattle 
buyers and railway surveyors. He was now 
selling sewing-machines on the installment plan 
in Michoacan. The business ought to be good, 
for a machine costing fourteen dollars in the 
United States sells for seventy-five in Mexico. 
Santiago's business was to sell the machines, 
teach the women how to use thenpi, and then 
collect the seven dollars a month installments. 
Often the machines revert, after the payment 
of a couple of installments, and they are often 
also taken out of pawn by the agent and sold 
over again. Santiago had another still more 
interesting business. This is the selling of 
enlarged and colored photograph likenesses. 


Finding a photograph, taken by a strolling 
photographer, he persuades the owner to have 
it enlarged. Santiago sends this to a firm in a 
remote t6wn in New York, with a description 
of the subject, complexion, color of hair, and 
eyes. This is thrown up to life size, properly 
colored, and returned. The noble picture costs 
Santiago about twenty dollars delivered, and 
he sells it for forty. Thus the fine arts are 
slowly sifting into Mexico. 

We explored the town that morning in 
search of good specimens of the Uruapan lac- 
quered ware. It is famous the world over ; it 
has taken the prize of gold medals at Paris, 
Vienna, Philadelphia. As usually happens in 
like cases, it was impossible to find good speci- 
mens in the town where the article is made. 
We visited the family whose work has taken 
the prizes, but it had no finished work; indeed 
the artist whose work won the gold medals 
had recently died. The ware of other makers 
was decidedly inferior, and I found nowhere, 
in shops or private houses, specimens of the 
best. The work is either gourds or shalloi;^ 
dishes of wood cut out with a jack-knife, bril- 
liantly decorated in colors. In the genuine 
ware a ground -color is first put on, gold or 
olive, or some low tone ; on this the drawings, 
UBoally of flowers, are made ; the figures are 


then cut out deeply with a knife, something as 
in wood - engraving, and the intaglio is filled 
with paint, each color being laid in separately 
and left to dry thoroughly before another is 
added. As there are as many colors as may 
be in a bouquet of various flowers, the process 
is slow. When the paint is perfectly dry, the 
whole surface is rubbed with a paste made of 
tree-caterpillars. This gives an enduring lac- 
quer to the surface that resists grease and hot 
water. The ware therefore retains its brilliant 
color and beauty, no matter how hard the 
usage, till it is literally worn out. The market 
value of this worm paste is two dollars a pound. 
A.S the finest ware is only made by one family, 
d, small amount is produced, and the price is 
high. The drawings in this family are all 
done by a stupid-looking girl of sixteen, and 
her designs are all mechanically copied. The 
former draughtsman always drew his flowers 
from nature. 

While waiting for breakfast I visited the old 
church on the paseo. The most notable thing 
about it is a fine flower-garden, occupying all 
the ground at one side. Within I found the 
usual bare white walls, but a highly decorated 
and gilded chancel and altar, a wood floor, a 
ceiling of wood carved and painted in lozenge 
patterns, and cornices prettily painted in blue 



and brown. A row of men on their hands and 
knees were scrubbing the floor with soap and 
water, using the painted wooden bowls, and 
groups of women were kneeling about the con- 
fessionals, either confessing or waiting for the 

In the garden I was accosted by a very re- 
spectable man, who offered to show me the 
town. He was, I afterward learned, one of 
the first citizens of the place, a planter, dealer 
in iron, and a man of means. Uruapan, lying 
in the foot-hills, is splendidly watered, a noble 
though artificial stream (at least with artificial 
banks) rushing through the suburbs, ^nd pour- 
ing abundant life into the blooming valley. 
Indeed, it is the water of Uruapan that makes 
it widely famous as a garden of delight. We 
went down to the river, and followed it where 
it is diverted into several channels through the 
coffee plantations. Here, in the dense shade 
of bananas and other fruit trees, gleamed the 
red berries, and here were the African huts 
embowered in the luxuriant foliage. In these 
cool retreats life v^as simple, men, women, and 
children were bathing in the canal, regardless 
of a censorious world. 

We found also on our walk a thriving cot- 
ton-mill, conducted by a Scotchman, employing 
some two hundred operatives, and turning out 


common sheeting, which sells here for a much 
higher price than fine cotton cloth in the 
States ; the cotton costs the manufacturer 
much more than he would have to pay for a 
much better quality in New Orleans. I under- 
stood him to say that the Mexican cotton was 
generally inferior to ours. 

My vjery civil and obliging guide invited me 
to his house — a substantial residence, half 
dwelling-house and half shop, the court bright 
with flowers and decorated with specimens of 
the Uruapan lacquered ware — and introduced 
me to his family. I was informed that the 
house and all it contained was mine. It was a 
very warm day, and after our long stroll one of 
the cooling Mexican drinks, say an orange sher- 
bet, would have been enjoyable. But my hos- 
pitable entertainer did not offer me even a glass 
of water. 

Santiago was a character. I do not know 
what his Mexican speech was, but his Ameri- 
can was the most curious mosaic of slang and 
profanity I ever heard. He informed me, as 
we sat that evening in the paseo listening to 
the music in the lighted and thronged church 
— it being the eve of St. Joseph's Day — that 
he was on that sort of thing himself : he had 
just been baptized. His reasons for this step, 
since he had no respect for the priests and no 


knowledge of the Catholic religion, were not 
clear ; but as he had been ill recently, for the 
first time in his life, and likely to die, I sup- 
pose he thought he might as well take all the 
chances. The ceremony had not changed his 
conversation or his mode of life, which he 
freely opened to me, but he appeared to think 
there might be safety in it, " The priest told 
me," Santiago rambled on, " that if I would be 
baptized I would be just as if I had been born 
over; all that I had done would be clean 
rubbed out. He gave me a lot of Spanish to 
learn, catechism and all that ; but I could n't 
do it, and I just told him that I could n't get on 
to all that Bible racket. Never mind, he said, if 
I only believed so and so [it was the substance 
of the Apostles' Creed that was required], and 
I told him I reckoned I did. When I was going 
to be baptized I said, ' Look a-here, I can't go 
this confession business ; I don't want to tell you 
all the mean things I Ve done — and I 've done 
some mighty mean things — or all the mean 
things I 'm going to do.' He said I could make 
it general ; I 'd already owned up I was a big 
sinner; if I was baptized, all that would be 
taken away. Then I happened to think, and I 
said, * There is one little thing that is on my 
mind : there 's a Jew dealer up here in Zamora 
that I owe seven dollars and a hsdf for clothes.^ 


I guess I was cheated, but I felt kind of uneasy 
about it when I was sick. And the priest said, 
' That don't count ; when you are baptized you 
' are a new man, just as if you had been bom 
again, and you don't owe that Jew any seven 
dollars and a half/ That is what the priest 
said. I don't know anything about it." 

Notwithstanding his varied life, Santiago had 
the cow-boy's notion of " square dealing," and I 
found that he had a reputation among the mer- 
chants of the town for business integrity. It 
was this, in his opinion, that distinguished him 
from the Mexican community. Nor did this 
borderer altogether lack sentiment. " The 
place of all the world I 'd like to see," he 
said, as we looked at the moonlight through 
the lace-like foliage, " is Italy. I 've just been 
reading ' The Last Days of Pompey.' I 'd like 
to go to Italy." 

The next morning we were to start surely at 
five o'clock, in order to pass the hot plain be- 
fore the sun beat down on it, and to be well on 
our fifty-mile ride in the cool of the day. Mr. 
Pablo Plata insisted on that, and arrangements 
were made accordingly. When I awoke it was 
half past six, the mozo had the horses saddled, 
but Mr. Plata was still asleep, and there was no 
sign of coffee. When Mr. Plata was aroused 
he said that he would start at once, but while I 


was getting my cofiEee, he and the mozo, San 
Francisco, would step across the plaza to mass. 
It was St. Joseph's Day, and it would be very 
unlucky, indeed dangerous, to those on the 
journey without mass. 

The morning was fresh, a breeze stirred the 
trees in the plaza, birds were singing ; women 
had set up their coffee and bread stands for 
those early astir, women with ribosas over their 
heads were going to mass, servants were saun- 
tering to market to buy a few centavos' worth of 
milk, meat, and vegetables. At the fonda the 
horses and mules were being saddled. In the 
court-yard, out of their close apartments, ap- 
peared muleteers, drummers, a party of sleepy 
Mexican ladies who had taken refuge there the 
night before, and a big Indian in Mexican cos- 
tume, heavy-faced, surly, but looked up to with 
immense respect as the richest man in all that 
region. It was nearly an hour before my com- 
rades returned from mass, and eight o'clock 
when we clattered over the rough pavements 
out of town. 

We returned by the way we came, a route 
much traveled by horsemen, and long trains of 
burros and mules, each with two big packs of 
sugar or cotton. The only vehicle seen was 
the creaking cart, the heavy wheels of which 
were solid, constructed of three pieces of wood 


wedged together, the axle turning with the 
wheels. As the mozo had neglected to put up 
a lunch, we breakfasted with our friends at 
Ziracuaritiro. The whole of the hospitable 
family assisted in preparing this meal, scrap- 
ing the cheese, mashing the corn, and stirring 
the tomato and other ingredients, and I very 
unwisely witnessed . the operations. But the 
result was a capital breakfast. When it was 
over, the mother asked me to change the two- 
real piece of money I had given her son, as 
she thought it was too smooth to pass readily. 
A touch of thrift makes all the world kin. 

At sundown we rode into the streets of Patz- 
cuaro, thanks to the easy gait of our horses, 
very little fatigued by the ride. 

Here, as well as anywhere else, these ran- 
dom notes on Mexico might as well end. It is 
a country with a marvelous climate, extraordi- 
nary natural beauty, full of novelty and inter- 
est to the traveler. It is a land of much polite- 
ness, amiability, and graciousness of manner. 
Its civilization has many points worthy of imi- 
tation. Its government, however, is, as I said, 
the most purely personal of any with which I 
am acquainted, and offers, as at present con- 
ducted, the least invitation to foreign capital 
or enterprise. And if any one desires to see 
the depressing outcome of miscegenation, he 
will do well to travel through it. 



It has been a subject of regret ever since 
that I did not buy Southern California when I 
was there in March, 1877, and sell it out the 
same month. I should have made enough to 
pay my railway fare back, and purchase provi- 
sions to last through the deserts of sand and 
feeding places, and had money left to negotiate 
for one of the little states on the Atlantic 
coast, and settle down in such plain living and 
civilization as it might afford. It was all 
offered to me, but I hesitated, and before the 
end of the month it was beyond my reach. 
There is not much of it, little more than 
what you may call a strip of irrigated sand 
between the Mohave Desert and the Pacific 
Ocean ; and if you do not secure a portion of 
it now, it will be forever beyond your means. 
For there is but one California in the world 
(one ought to know this, after hearing it a 
hundred times a day), and everybody " has got 
to have " some of it. There is nowhere else to 
go in the winter. Travelers who have been in 
Southern Italy, in North Africa, in Sicily, in 


Florida, in Greece, in Madeira, in Jamaica, in 
Bogota, in the Piney Woods, are perfectly open 
in telling you this. There is no climate like it. 
But it is rapidly going into the hands of inves- 
tors, climate and all. If the present expecta- 
tions of transferring half-frozen Eastern and 
Northern people there by the railway compa- 
nies and land-owners are half realized. South- 
ern California, in its whole extent, will soon 
present the appearance of a mass-meeting, each 
individual fighting for a lot and for his perpen- 
dicular section of climate. In a year, perhaps 
in six months from now, you might as well at- 
tempt to buy a plot in London city, near the 
Bank, on which to set out an orange grove and 
some pepper-trees, as to get a foothold in the 
Garden of the World. I am not an alarmist, 
but I have seen London, and I know what its 
climate is in winter. It is sufficient to hint 
to prudent folks that there are many people 
in the world, that there is but one California, 
and that there is not room enough in it for 
all. Somebody is going to be left out. 

There is nothing that will grow anywhere 
in the world — except, perhaps, certain great 
staples — that will not grow there in greater 
abundance and perfection : oranges, lemons, 
limes, peaches, nectarines, grapes, figs, almonds, 
olives^ Madeira nuts, every edible vegetable 


known to woman, — perhaps even grass might 
be raised by constant and excessive irrigation. 
Happening one night into a Pullman smoking- 
room, after days of travel through the Sahara 
wastes of New Mexico and Arizona, I chanced 
to hear fragments of a conversation between a 
man familiar with the region and a new-comer, 
who was evidently a little discouraged by the 
endless panorama of sand and dry sagebrush. 

" Anything grow along here ? " 

" Everything, sir, everything ; the most pro- 
ductive soil on God Almighty's earth. All it 
wants is water." 

^' Fruits ? " 

" Fruits ? I should say so. Every sort 
that 's known. This country right here is 
going to beat the world in fruits." 


" Well, yes ; " relapsing into candor and 
confession, " no ; the fact is, melons don't do 
so well here. They ain't apt to be good. The 
vines grow so fast that the melons are bumped 
along over the ground and bruised." 

" Ah ? " without any sign of surprise. 

" Yes," without a smile, and with evident 
desire to keep back no part of the truth, even 
if it were an afterthought ; " if you want to 
pick a melon in this country, you have to get 
on horseback." 


And then the conversation expanded into 
what seemed to me a little exaggeration of the 
"boom" in New Mexico. There is a buoy- 
ancy in the air. The traveler who has been 
dragged through the sordidness, the endless 
materialism of flat, muddy, or dusty land, and 
shanty-towns, as seen from the railway, of 
Kansas and Nebraska, experiences a certain 
elevation of spirits on coming to the high, bar- 
ren vastness of New Mexico, mostly treeless 
and verdureless ; a sort of clean, wind-swept 
top of the world, free and out-doors, illimita- 
ble. The air is like wine. It is a luxury to 
breathe it. The American lungs expand, the 
pulse quickens; it is necessary to breathe 
twice as fast as in the East, to get oxygen 
enough to satisfy one. One's whole nature 
expands. The imagination is kindled. The 
tongue is loosened. Here is freedom, the real 
elixir. You see at once that it was a mistake 
ever to expect a good climate with trees and 
a lush, green vegetation, requiring and giving 
dampness. The mind is enfranchised. The 
dweller desires to speak the truth, the whole 
truth, to give free play to it. Truth becomes 
buoyant, expansive, hyperbolical. It knows 
no limit of time or space. The difiference be- 
tween conversation in the East and -in the 
West is that in the latter it is pitched an 


octave higher. Vast spaces, limitless horizons, 
thin air, clear skies, beget a certain largeness 
of speech. The new-comer, in my experience, 
is more subject to it than the old resident, es- 
pecially if he has invested in a bit of land, 
which he mayor may not want to sell. Hu- 
man nature is the same everywhere, under 
varying conditions. Women who talk of the 
fashions and of education in the East speak 
about real estate in the Far West. 

The two pieces of advice that were given 
me on starting for California were that I must 
wear always there the thickest flannels and the 
heaviest winter suit, and that I must ask no 
questions about anybody's marital relations. 
The first was good. The second was a humor- 
ously malicious allusion to the notion that di- 
vorces are as common there as in Chicago and 
Connecticut. It was repeatedly impressed upon 
me that the California climate, the best in the 
world, was something that one must get used to. 

From the heights of New Mexico to the 
Pacific it is a land of strange and confusing 
contrasts, upsetting all one's preconceived no- 
tions of how Nature ought to act. At. Las 
Vegas Hot Springs, at an elevation of about 
seven thousand feet, in a barren valley in- 
closed by stony brown hills, in March, there 
was no sign of spring except here and thei^ a 


purple wild flower in the sand, and yet it some- 
how looked like summer. The sky was tur- 
quoise blue, the sun rays were warm, the air 
splendid in quality, elastic and inspiring. 
From the appearance, I should have had no 
doubt that it was summer, — a summer without 
vegetation, — if I had not discovered a snow 
bank under my north window. It was difficult 
to conceive that one needed an overcoat, or 
might not lounge in the easy-chairs on the broad 
verandas, unless one happened to observe that 
at ten A. M. the thermometer had risen from 
the freezing point of sunrise to only 38°. It 
was so dry. Everything and everybody was 
electrified. The hotel, sumptuously furnished, 
heated by steam and lighted throughout by elec- 
tricity, was a sort of big dynamo. We could 
not touch a bit of iron, turn on a light, brush 
against a portiere, or shake hands without ex- 
periencing a tingling shock. Inside and out, 
it was like being in a place enchanted. It was 
much the same at Santa F^, — cold, clear, 
looking like summer, water freezing in the 
pitcher at night, sky blue by day, purple at 
sunset, the air so tenuous that Old Bald, a 
snow-peak twelve thousand feet high, seemed 
close at band ; and I noticed that the moon was 
thin and had no body, merely a disk of silver- 
paper stuck on the distant sky. 


But it is seldom cold in the Needles and 
the Mohav(> Desert, — a shimmering alkaline 
waste : 85° in March, and say 120° to 130° in 
July. It does not matter. The few people in 
the far-apart stations live in houses that have a 
second detached roof, put on like the fly of a 
tent ; and the heated, desolate passage is a 
providential arrangement to lower the spirits 
of the traveler to the enjoyment of the irri- 
gated country recovered from the desert, in 
Southern California. It is a veritable para- 
dise, as really such as the oasis of Fayoum in 
Egypt. Heavens! how the human eye does 
crave the green color ; how grateful it is for a 
field of barley, a straight eucalyptus-tree, vines 
and roses clambering over the houses, the lus- 
trous foliage of the orange groves starred with 
globes of gold ! This is Paradise. And the cli- 
mate ? Perpetual summer (but daily rising in 
price). There is no doubt of this when you 
reach the San Gabriel valley, Passadena and Los 
Angeles. Avenues of eucalyptus, pepper, and 
orange - trees, two, three, four rows of them, 
seven and eight miles long ; vast plowed fields of 
oranges ; the vine stubs in the grape plantations 
beginning to bud ; barley fodder (the substitute 
for hay) well up and verdant; palmettos and 
other semi-tropical plants, and all the flowers, 
and shrubs, and vines, gay, rampant, vigorous, 


ever-blooming, in door-yards, gardens, overrun- 
ning trees and houses, — surely it ♦is summer. 
There is snow sprinkled on the bare, ashy 
hills, but everywhere in the plain is water, 
from the unfailing mountain springs, running 
in wooden conduits and ditches. You can buy 
this water at so much an hour. All you need 
to buy is climate and water, — the land is 
thrown in. It is warm in the sun, — the ther- 
mometer may indicate 70°; it is even hot, 
walking out through the endless orange planta- 
tions and gardens that surround Los Angeles ; 
but there is a chill the instant you pass into 
the shade ; you still need your. winter clothing, 
and if you drive, or ride in the grip-cars over 
the steep hills, you require a winter overcoat. 
The night temperature throughout California 
is invariably in great contrast to that in the 
daytime ; nearly everywhere fire is necessary at 
night the year round, and agreeable nearly all 
the year, even in Southern California. I doubt 
if it is ever pleasant to sit out-of-doors or on the 
piazzas at night, though it may be in the hot- 
ter months, in the Southern portion. But it is 
very confusing to the mind of the new-comer 
to reconcile his necessity for winter clothing to 
what he sees and almost feels ; in short, to get 
used to the climate. The invalid is thrown off 
his guard by appearances ; and I should say 


that there is no country in the world where a 
person needs to use more care about taking 
cold. Yet this must be said : the air is bracing 
and life-giving. I did not, in any part of the 
State, in walking or taking any sort of exercise, 
feel the least fatigue. A *' cold," therefore, for 
a person in ordinary health and condition, is 
not the dragging, nearly mortal experience that 
it is apt to be in the East. Then the crowning 
advantage of the country, even if the climate 
is treacherous and needs watching in its effects, 
is that one can be out-of-doors all the time, 
nearly every day in the year. Meantime he 
can eat oranges, if he is not particular about 
the variety, and get rich selling prospective or 
real orange groves to Eastern people. But he 
will never get over the surprises and contrasts 
of the 30untry. We went one day, by rail, 
eighteen miles over the gentle hills, from 
Los Angeles to its lovely seaport of Santa 
Monica. Fine hotel, charming beach and 
sand bluffs, illimitable Pacific Ocean. It 
was not a warm day nor a cold day, just the 
ordinary kind of day to sell (I suppose one 
could buy a day's climate there, or half a day's, 
or swap off a morning for an afternoon with 
the real-estate brokers, — and every man and 
woman is a real-estate broker), but we wore 
thick winter clothing, and carried overcoats, 


which occasionally were needed. Yet as man j 
as seventy-five sane people were bathing in the 
Pacific Ocean as if it had been August ! Flow- 
ers, fruits, summer bathing, and winter over- 
coats, — ^you have to get used to it. 

It is a splendid place for invalids. The 
country was full of them. It will be fuller yet, 
if Los Angeles, lovely city of angels, growing 
like asparagus in a hot-bed, already with fifty 
thousand people, and may be ten thousand 
more, in the season, trying to find a night's 
lodging, never yet having had the least time to 
pay attention to ordinary sanitary precautions, 
does not speedily design some system of drain- 
age out of its shut-in valley. But this is a 
matter of detail. And yet it cannot be ne- 
glected, for already the doctors there have cases 
of pneumonia, diphtheria, and typhoid fever« 
San Diego, lying mostly on sand hills overlook- 
ing its magnificent harbor, has already appro- 
priated a million and a quarter of dollars for 
drainage, inviting the Waring system. And 
another thing, also a matter of taste as well as 
of detail : the buyer, driving around the city 
and the country, which for thirty miles in any 
direction is humming with the noise of build- 
ing, and planting, and laying out streets, — the 
hum of populations yet to be, — the buyer, 
amid the myriad signs of '^Real Estate For 


Sale," ought not to be confronted by so many 
legends of " Undertakers and Embalmers." It 
chills ardor. Real estate for certain limited 
purposes, though unlimited occupation, we are 
all reluctant to purchase. 

One of the great uses of New England in the 
world is. that of an object les8on,^or the de- 
votees of the development hypothesis, of the 
survival of the fittest. Southern California 
offers to illustrate the converse. The move- 
ment of people thither is, both in quality and 
volume, the most striking phenomenon of 
modem times, in its character a migration per- 
haps unprecedented in history. It quite equals 
the movement of 1849, perhaps surpasses it in 
speculative excitement, but its original motion 
is entirely different. There was mixed, in the 
hegira of 1849 to the west coast, a greed for 
sudden wealth and a spirit of reckless adven- 
ture, which recalled the romantic heroism of 
both Jason and Cortez. The present emigra- 
tion is not for adventure at all, and primarily 
not for gold ; it is a pursuit of climate. But 
naturally, this human desire for dwelling in a 
place genial and tolerant of human physical 
weakness has been taken advantage of, and the 
west coast is the arena of the most gigantic 
speculation and inflation known in American 
annals. I cannot oonceive that the excitement 


of *49 exceeded this. We can well understand 
why men and women, who discover that they 
have but one life to live on this engaging 
planet, that they are freer than plants to change 
their habitat, and that all the places in the 
world are not alike inhospitable and not alike 
devoted to* the development of the robust vir- 
tues, should weary of the winters of the North, 
and of the blizzards and cyclones of the West, 
and seek a land comparatively free from phys- 
ical anxiety. In the process of natural selec- 
tion there has been developed a great number 
of people who come to .regard climate as of 
more importance than anything else. When 
to this desire is added the advertised advan- 
tage of living in luxury with comparatively lit- 
tle labor, the migration is accounted for. The 
fact is, besides, that we are a poetic people ; 
notwithstanding the sternness of our discipline, 
we have a good deal of Oriental imagination, 
and if you dangle a golden orange before the 
eyes of a Northern man you can lead him any- 

The Southern California speculator has a 
reasonable, not to say a mathematical, basis. 
You can figure out of our sixty millions of 
population a certain number of invalids and 
their families, or of people not exactly invalids, 
to whom a genial climate seems the most desir- 


able thing, a number large enough to fill up 
Southern California several times over. What 
interests the tra.veler is the inquiry, What will 
all those people now there, and on the way 
there, do when they have sold out all the land 
to each other, and resold and resold it at con- 
stantly mounting prices, until it is beyond pur- 
chase, and it is found, that no possible crop 
on it can pay a remunerative per cent, on the 
irrigated principle? What interests the phi- 
losopher is the inquiry. What sort of a com- 
munity will ultimately result from this union 
of the Invalid and the Speculator ? Assuming 
that Southern California is the best winter 
climate in the republic, and that its product is 
mainly small fruits, given a land as valuable as 
Wall Street, is it not the expectation that this 
shall be the home of the rich, who must draw 
upon Eastern accumulations of capital? Agri- 
culture is now the dependence there of labor, 
for at present coal is so high as to forbid profit- 
able manufacturing. How are the laboring 
people to live ? I was told, in a certain region, 
that there were at least a thousand dressmakers 
and milliners, who had gone there expecting to 
live by their trades, who found the ground 
completely occupied, and were filling the posi- 
tions of chambermaids and other servants, glad 
to get any sort of work by which they could 


live. Many a man, who went there with a 
little money, expecting to enrich himself by 
speculation, or to own that gold mine, an 
orange grove, has had his lesson, and is glad to 
earn the means of subsistence by grooming or 
driving horses. It begins to be said with fre- 
quency, " This is no place for a poor man." 

If it is true that the quantity of land open 
to purchase is very limited, as the intending 
buyer is constantly told, and limited because of 
the difficulty of irrigating the adjacent desert, 
there is also at present an artificial limitation 
on account of the ownership of vast tracts, 
ranches of from twenty thousand to one hun- 
dred thousand acres, by investors and specula- 
tors and railway corporations. California — 
one hears that already — is practically in the 
hands of a few rich men. It is not literally 
true, but vast land-ownership is certainly a fea- 
ture of this Eldorado. 

There is an undeniable fascination about the 
west coast for most persons. Probably the 
temporary sojourner, however much be may be 
pleased with certain qualities of the climate, 
and however deeply he may be interested in 
the abnormal state of things, declares, if he is 
in health, that nothing would induce him to 
live there. Possibly a majority of those who 
go there think they go temporarily, for the 


winter, or to make easily a little money. It is 
a common experience, throughout the State, to 
dislike the life, the society, the whole thing, at 
first, and then to become as violently attached 
to it as a place of residence. Something is apt 
to draw people back who have been there once : 
perhaps the climate, or the untrammeled life, 
or a certain expensiveness congenial to the 
American mind. 

I do not know whether the English language 
is exactly adapted to Southern California. It 
Beems to me too tame and literal to express the 
exuberant growth of that region. At any rate, 
the real-estate people call in the aid of art and 
music. Brass bands, heading the processions to 
auction sales of city lots in the outlying des- 
erts, excite the buyer to frenzy ; and seductive 
paintings, a vast broadside of boards erected 
at the railway stations, — pictures of vineyards, 
orchards, lofty rose-covered houses and delec- 
table hills, — appeal to the most stolid visitor. 
Indeed, our language is too poor to do justice 
to the prolific powers of nature, to say nothing 
of the prolific invention of man. Jack's Bean- 
stalk is not a myth, but simply an illustration. 
We are accustomed to regard the tree as a 
slow, laborious product of nature. I do not 
say that in California the forest tree is an an- 
nual, but if you plant eucalyptus saplings you 


"will have in three or four years a fine, stately 
grove, from which firewood is cut; and very 
good firewood this fat tree makes. I was 
shown a big stump of a eucalyptus-tree in a 
Los Angeles garden, which the owner had cut 
down because it was too near the house. It 
was ninety feet high, and he had planted the 
sapling only seven years before. 

Possibly Southern California should be de- 
scribed as a garden rather than an agricultural 
region. The most considerable plantations I 
saw were of vineyards and orange groves. The 
vineyards were on flat, irrigated land, vine- 
yards sometimes six hundred acres in extent. 
There is no doubt that the yield of grapes is 
prolific. There is also no doubt that nearly 
every kind of wine known to the market is 
made from the same field, — hock, claret, bur- 
gundy, champagne ; wine sweet as cordials and 
sour as vinegar ; wines white, red, and golden. 
Quantity is the thing aimed at. Good wine is 
produced here and there. I did not happen 
upon any in the hotels or vineyards of South- 
ern California, but I tasted of a good bottle in 
San Francisco. I question if choice, fine wines 
will ever be produced on the rich flats ; cer- 
tainly not by the present wholesale system of 
cultivation, — getting the most possible from 
the acre. It is probable that the best wine 


grapes will be grown in the foot-hills, where 
the producer, for the sake of quality, will be 
content with a yield of a quarter of the present 
quantity per acre. I doubt not that if a man 
were to limit his vineyard to fifty acres, which 
he could properly cultivate, and the product of 
which he could properly take care of, he would 
get a much better result as to quality of wine 
than he gets from two hundred acres, and that 
his profit would be greater. The science of 
wine growing and handling is still little re- 
garded. The effort is to obtain the greatest 
quantity of juice, and the manipulation and 
manufacture of sorts from the same juice is, I 
was told, becoming common, though perhaps 
not yet as universal as in France, where we 
get now almost no wine in the bottle answer- 
ing to the name on the label. 

The orange-tree is very prolific in Southern 
California. I do not know why the best varie- 
ties would not grow there. There is, of course, 
as much difference between oranges as between 
apples. The attractive golden outside is a con- 
stant deception, the cover of an unpleasant sur- 
prise. I found at Las Vegas a delicious orange, 
not very large, fine skin, firm, lively pulp, 
melting in the mouth, with little remaining 
fibre ; sweet, but not with the insipid sweet- 
ness of so many of the Havana oranges, — 


very like the Malta oranges. It came from 
Hermasilla, in Mexico. I searched diligently 
in California, but I did not find in any hotel, 
market, chance peddler's basket, or grove any 
orange to compare with this. Nearly all of 
them were sharply acrid. . There is a kind 
called the Navel, much praised. But it was 
sour, wherever I came across it. Oranges were 
in great abundance. Perhaps I was unfortu- 
nate in not finding any in perfection. But I 
ate those which were praised, and the variety 
which I was informed had taken the premium 
in competition with those of Florida. All had 
the same sourness ; and I concluded that the 
grafts must have come from Sicily or Southern 
Italy, where a really sweet, luscious orange is 
rare. I know that this is a matter of taste ; 
that Californians ate their own oranges and 
said they liked them, and seemed hurt when 
I sometimes asked for a lemon, to " take the 
taste out." I hope the experiment will be 
made with other varieties, for I desire to be- 
lieve that California can produce the best 
oranges in the world. 

In some fruits California certainly excels. 
The small olives have the nutty sweetness of 
those grown in Southern France; and I ate 
raisins, made from grapes grown in a little val- 
ley back of San Diego, which were, in my ex- 


perlence with this wholesome arfcicle of food, 
incomparably fine. With more careful cultiva- 
tion and attention to best varieties, I see no 
reason why this region cannot supply the rest 
of the United States with abundance of small 
fruits and nuts which will be preferred to those 
now imported. 

The success of this gardening and fruit-rais- 
ing, however, must depend largely upon the 
price the cultivator finally pays for his land, for 
the competition will be with, countries where 
land is cheap and wages are low. It would not 
pay to raise pears in Wall Street. I do not 
mean to say that the small industries of hus- 
bandry are neglected ; irrigation and planting 
keep pretty even pace with surveying, auction- 
eering, and building. But at present the lead- 
ing industry is the selling of real estate, — it 
is about the only thing talked of. Iii the six 
months previous to March, 1887, the price of 
real estate in the region of Los A^geles and 
Passadena had advanced four hundred per cent. 
A lady went out one morning by rail from Los 
Angeles to Passadena, where she took carriage 
for the ordinary drive round the country, 
through Baldwin's thirty-thousand-acre ranch. 
As she was starting an agent asked her if she 
did not want to buy a lot, — they peddle lots 
like oranges ; he could offer her a bargain of a 


small building lot for fifty dollars! The lady- 
said she didn't mind making a little invest- 
ment (the air is so stimulating, the orange 
blossoms are so intoxicating, there is such a 
noise of building and hammering everywhere, 
and there are so many invalids from Maine 
and New Hampshire, sitting in the rose-cov- 
ered porches of their little cottages), and she 
took the lot and paid for it. On her return in 
the afternoon, the same agent met her, and 
asked her if she did not want to sell her lot. 
She replied that she was perfectly willing to 
sell at a fair price — her drive had been 
rather dusty, and she had seen a good deal 
of apparently unoccupied ground. The agent 
offered her two hundred dollars, and she 
handed back the lot and took the money, and 
went home to her dinner. The story has no 
affidavit attached to it, but it is not an exag- 
geration of daily occurrences. 

In front of San Diego and forming its beau- 
tiful harbor lies Coronada Beach, an island of 
sand, something like two miles long and half 
a mile broad, with a curved tongue of beach 
along the Pacific, a superb bathing and driving 
place. This sand heap had been bought by a 
company, all staked out in building lots, with 
shrubs planted at the corners, a shanty or two 
erected, and from November to March seven 


hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of 
lots had been sold. How much cash had been 
paid I do not know. The island is reached by 
a ferry ; water has been carried over, a line of 
railway crosses the island, and on the ocean 
side, with a beautiful prospect of gray hills 
framing the bay and the sparkling Pacific, 
foundations were being laid for a hotel which 
was to be the largest in the country (the reader 
understands that everything is the largest and 
every view is the finest in the world), twice as 
big as the Raymond at Passadena. The house 
is to be ready for occupation this winter, and I 
hear that its rooms are all engaged, and further- 
more that the sale of land on the island is al- 
ready reckoned at over two millions of dollars. 
A friend of mine, who during the last half 
dozen years or so has been gradually investing 
forty or fifty thousand dollars in San Diego 
lots, told me that they would any day bring 
half a million. I do not mean to say that 
everybody in Southern California is rich, — per- 
haps the majority are having a hard struggle 
for existence, — but everybody expects to be 
rich to-morrow. It gives one a feeling of the 
rapid accumulation of property merely to hear 
the ordinary conversation. But it is scarcely a 
restful feeling, and I must confess that for me 
the atmosphere of this sunny and flowery land 


would be more agreeable if I could escape the 
uneasy sensation that the first duty of man is 
to buy a lot. 

Certainly it was not a restful place. The 
railways swarmed with excursion trains, the 
cars were crowded, and it was difficult to get a 
seat. The towns overflowed with speculators, 
invalids, and travelers ; it was not easy to ob- 
tain accommodations in hotels even by appl}'-- 
ing days in advance. Los Angeles secured 
temporary relief by getting up a small-pox 
scare, and hanging out on various houses about 
town danger flags, and this sent thousands to 
the neighboring villages. Owing partially to 
the sudden influx of settlers and visitors, the 
post-office service was completely demoralized. 
The government refused to employ clerks 
enough to do the business; as a consequence 
the post-offices, as at Los Angeles, were closed 
more than half the time for assorting and re- 
directing letters, and during the few open hours 
long cues of people waited a chance at the win- 
dows. It required a long time to procure ac- 
cess to the open office, to register a letter or to 
inquire for one. By chance a letter might be 
delivered promptly ; by chance it might lie in 
the office a week. The employees were worked 
to death. Very soon I gave up all expecta- 
tion of getting letters with any regularity or 


promptness. This was of course largely the 
fault of the government, — though the closing 
of the post-offices generally for several hours 
each day seems a relic of the Spanish-Mexican 
habit. But the annoyance about the telegraph 
is due solely to the fact that one company has 
a monopoly. In New Mexico and Southern 
California the service was intolerably vexatious. 
Messages were missent, lost, thrown into the 
waste-basket, delayed. There was no remedy, 
little spirit of accommodation, generally care- 
lessness and often insolence in the employees. 

Yet the climate remains, with the extraor- 
dinary fertility of the irrigated land, the 
strange beauty of sunny valleys and brown, 
savage mountain spurs. The beauty of turf, 
the abundant spontaneous vegetation, and the 
wonderful wealth of New England landscape 
in summer it does not approach ; but it has a 
loveliness of its own, partly due to contrast 
with the surrounding and encroaching desert, 
but also to the sun, the genial air, and the 
fruits, flowers, and semi-trogical suggestions of 
a perpetual summer. The grandiose scenery 
of the Far West — great wastes, gigantic 
mountains, fantastic freaks of a nature worn 
out with age and violence — reminds one of 
Spain. Southern California, with something 
of this character, has a softer attractiveness, 


and the inhabitants like to say it is Italian. 
Sierra Madre Villa, nestled amid vineyards and 
fruit groves on the side of a mountain, with 
a glimpse of the ocean twenty miles distant, 
certainly suggests Southern Italy ; but no man 
who has not bought a lot can lay his hand on 
his heart, and say that there is here the pictu- 
resqueness of the Sorrentine promontory, or 
the atmospheric color. The region should be 
content to be its glorious self, and unlike any 
other part of the United States. 

I should think that the camel would become 
this landscape, and I know that the ostrich 
looks more or less at home. I saw an ostrich 
farm, where the birds lay eggs at a dollar and 
a half apiece, and shed plumes at a reasonable 
price, with no improvement to their appear- 
ance. The ostrich is an interesting animal, 
with his exaggerated, stately strut, his long 
snake - like neck, the head carried haughtily 
and parallel with the ground, the big, super- 
cilious eyes looking straight along the flat, soft 
bill. A procession of these birds is even com- 
ical. They are denied, apparently, the pleas- 
ures of the palate in eating, everything going 
whole into the best digestive apparatus known 
to the physiologists. It is a recreation to see 
one dispose of an orange. It passes easily into 
the capacious mouth ; then the ostrich stretches 


and twists the long neck, and the round fruit 
is traceable, slowly making its way down, round 
and round, a solid lump, until it disappears. If 
the bird could only taste the fruit in its pro- 
gress, his capacity of enjoyment would be en- 

Traces of the old Spanish life are rapidly 
.disappearing, but may still be seen at such a 
ranch and hacienda as that of Comulos (the 
scene of Ramona), and lingering still in Santa 
Barbara. At this place, besides a few dwell- 
ings in the Spanish style, exists a refined Span- 
ish society. Santa Barbara, lying in a valley 
opening southward to the Pacific, with nooks 
and cafions among the hills, of wild and almost 
incomparable beauty, does strongly suggest a 
sort of Italy. The character and color of the 
great mountain that shuts it in on the left 
hand, looking seaward, are very Italian. The 
railway has not yet reached it, and the situa- 
tion, the air, the equable climate, — genial in 
winter and not too warm in summer, — some- 
thing reposeful and secluded, gave me gr^at 
content to be there. As I think of it with long- 
ing, at the approach here of snow and storm, I 
cannot but regret that so many days and des- 
erts lie between it and the East. 

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